An Exacta Bet is picking horses to finish first and second. Place a straight exacta, exacta wheel or exacta box. Each exacta variant has its own mechanics and cost. This tutorial explains how to place each exacta. See example exacta bets and cost tables below.
A winning exacta bet can result in a respectable payout. Winning exactas with longshot horses pay more than those with heavy favorites.
Exactas are also called “Perfectas“.
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First, let’s define an exacta bet.
The following video clip explains how to place this bet. Watch the entire video for other horse bets.
Straight Exacta Bet
Choose 2 horses to finish first and second. Final order matters.
Your exacta wins if the horses finish in the exact order you specified.
How to Place an Exacta Bet
- Choose "Exacta Bet".
- Horses will be listed on the left. The next "ML" column contains the odds.
- Select the first and second horses. Final order matters. In this diagram, the first horse has 2/1 odds and the second horse has 5/2 odds.
- Notes: Your 2 horses must finish in the order you specified.
$2 Straight Exacta on horses 3-5 means you are betting $2 that horse 3 will finish first and horse 5 will finish second. Final order matters.
Exacta Box Bet
An Exacta Box bet is picking any number of horses to finish first and second. Final order does not matter.
Your exacta box bet wins if any of your horses finish in the top 2 in any order.
The exacta box costs more than a straight exacta because you must pay for each possible finishing combination.
Cost: $2 per Combination
Exacta Box Cost
H = Total number of horses being boxed.
C = Cost per Combination, usually $2.
(H) x (H – 1) x (C)
A 3 horse exacta box costs $12 for 6 combinations: 3 x 2 x $2.
Racebooks will calculate exacta box cost for you. See also this calculator.
How to Place a Box Bet
- Choose "Exacta Bet".
- Horses will be listed on the left. The next “ML” column contains the odds.
- Select 3 or more horses to finish first and second. Final order does not matter.
- You must select “Box” wager. This indicates the bet is an Exacta Box.
- Notes: Sportsbook will calculate box cost automatically.
A 4 Horse Exacta Box on Horses 2-7-5-8 means you are betting $2 that any combination of horses 2, 7, 5 or 8 will finish first and second in any order. This exacta box costs $24 for 12 possible finishing combinations.
2 Horse Exacta Box vs. Quinella
An exacta box and quinella payout after the same race result. Two horses must finish first and second in any order. The mechanics of each bet differ.
The quinella is one bet on 2 horses. Horses A and B can finish either A-B or B-A.
The 2 horse exacta box is 2 different bets on A and B.
- Horses finish A-B.
- Horses finish B-A.
Each horses’s odds will produce two different payouts. This happens when a favorite is paired with a longshot. A winning longshot followed by a heavy favorite would pay more than the reverse result.
2 Horse Exacta Box vs. Quinella Equation
Use the following equation to determine whether a quinella or exacta box is better for 2 horses.
Q/E1 + Q/E2 <> 1
- Q = 2 horse quinella payout.
- E1 = 2 horse exacta payout finishing A-B.
- E2 = 2 horse exacta payout finishing B-A.
- Results greater than 1 indicate the quinella is a better choice than an exacta box.
Q = $15 Quinella Payout
E1 = $20 Exacta Payout A-B
E2 = $50 Exacta Payout B-A
$15/$20 + $15/$50 = 0.75 + 0.3 = 1.05
1.05 > 1. Therefore, the quinella is the better bet.
Exacta Wheel Bet
An Exacta Wheel bet is picking sets of horses to finish first and second. Each set is called a key. Each key contains 1 or more horses.
Two Exacta Wheel Bets
Exacta Full Wheel – Put one horse in the 1st key with all other horses in the 2nd key. Alternatively, wheel 1 horse in the 2nd with all others in the 1st.
Exacta Part Wheel – Put one or more horses in the 1st key with your own set of horses in the 2nd key. The part wheel does not include all other horses.
Exacta Wheel Details
A horse can be included in multiple keys. This is common for heavy favorites. They are more likely to finish in the top 2 than a longshot.
An exacta wheel bet requires a specific finishing order from 2 sets of horses. Note that an exacta box bet requires any order of 3 or more horses.
Your exacta wheel bet wins if a horse from the 1st key finishes first and a horse from the 2nd key finishes second.
Cost: $2 per Combination
Exacta Wheel Cost
This calcuation is more complicated because the same horse can included in multiple keys. Racebooks will calculate your exacta wheel cost automatically.
Exacta Wheel Combination Calcuation
A = Number Horses Key 1
B = Number Horses Key 2
AB = Number same horses in both keys.
(A x B) – (AB) = Combinations
Multiply combinations times cost per combination.
Racebooks will calculate exacta wheel cost for you. See also this calculator.
4 Horse Exacta Part Wheel. 1-2 with 2-3-4 costs $10.
- 1st Key – Horses 1 and 2
- 2nd Key – Horses 2, 3 and 4
Notes: 2 is in both 1st and 2nd key.
Example Cost Calculation:
(A x B) = 2 x 3 = 6
– (AB) = –1
6 – 1 = 5 Combinations x $2 = $10
Exacta Betting Reference
$2 Exacta Box
3 horses = $12
4 horses = $24
5 horses = $40
6 horses = $60
7 horses = $84
8 horses = $112
9 horses = $144
10 horses = $180
11 horses = $220
12 horses = $264
$2 Exacta Full Wheel with N Horses
Read as 1 with N Horses
2 horses = $4 (1 with 2 horses)
3 horses = $6 (1 with 3 horses)
4 horses = $8
5 horses = $10
6 horses = $12
7 horses = $14
8 horses = $16
9 horses = $18
10 horses = $20
11 horses = $22