Pick 3 or More Bet

A Pick 3 Bet is picking horses to finish first in three consecutive races. Place a straight pick 3 or pick 3 wheel. The pick 3 wheel variant has its own mechanics and cost. This tutorial explains how to place each pick 3 bet. See example bets and cost tables below.

A winning pick 3 bet can produce a substantial payout. Make these bets with caution. It is difficult to win a pick 3 bet.

The procedure for making a pick 4, pick 5, pick 6 or larger bet is the same as the pick 3. This bet is horse racing’s equivalent to a sports betting parlay. Winning a large pick bet is very rare. In fact, it can be harder than winning some sports parlay bets.


  1. Straight Pick 3
  2. Pick 3 Box
  3. Pick 3 Wheel
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First, let’s define a pick 3 bet.

Straight Pick 3 Bet

Pick horses to finish first in three consecutive races. Some tracks offer rolling pick 3 bets. That means your 3 race sequence can start with any race on the card.

Pick 3s are also available for events spanning two days. This commonly happens with the Breeders’ Cup horse racing event.

Your pick 3 wins if all 3 horses win their races.

Payouts will be posted after each race. Project payouts may be posted as the race card progresses. Remember to monitor race results carefully!

Cost: $1

How to Place a Pick 3 Bet
How to Place a Pick 3 Bet

  1. Choose “Pick 3 Bet”.
  2. Horses will be listed on the left. The next “ML” column contains the odds.
  3. Select three horses to finish first from three different races. Race #7’s pick has 5/1 odds. Race #8’s pick has 6/1 odds. Now pick a third horse to win Race #9. Races must be consecutive.
  4. Repeat process for Pick 4, 5, or 6 bets.
  5. Notes: All 3 horses must win their race for the pick 3 to win.

Example Ticket:

$1 Straight Pick 3 on Horse 3, Race #1; Horse 6, Race #2; and Horse 4, Race #3 means you are betting $1 that horses 3,6 and 4 will win their races.

Pick 3 Box Bet

A Pick box bet is not possible.

Box bets allow multiple horses to finish in different positions. A pick bet restricts bettors to choosing the winning horses in different races. Therefore, you can’t “pick 3 box” multiple horses because only one finishing position is available.

Pick 3 Wheel Bet

A Pick 3 Wheel bet is picking sets of horses to finish first in each race. Each set is called a key. Each key contains 1 or more horses.

Two Pick 3 Wheel Bets

Note: Each race has it’s own key.

Pick 3 Full Wheel – Select one horse for the first race’s key. Put all horses from the second race in the second race’s key. Then, put all horses from the third race in the third race’s key. Alternatively, wheel 1 horse from one race with all horses from the other races.

Pick 3 Part Wheel – Select your own horses for the first race’s key. Select your own horses for the second and third races’ keys. The part wheel does not include all horses from each race.

Pick 3 Wheel Details

Your pick 3 wheel wins if a horse from the first race’s key wins the first race, a horse from the second race’s key wins the second race, and a horse from the third race’s key wins the third race.

Cost: $1 per Combination

Pick 3 Wheel Cost

This calcuation is straightforward. Multiply the number of horses in each key together. The product is the number of combinations. Then multiply the combinations by the cost per combination.

Pick 3 Wheel Combination Calcuation
R1 = Number Horses 1st Race Key
R2 = Number Horses 2nd Race Key
R3 = Number Horses 3rd Race Key
C = Cost per combination

(R1 x R2 x R3) x C = Pick 3 cost

Add R4 for Pick 4, R5 for Pick 5, R6 for Pick 6, etc.


Racebooks will calculate pick bet wheel cost for you. See also this calculator.

Example Ticket:

1 horse key Race #1. 4 horse key Race #2. 3 horse key Race #3

  • #1 Key – Horse 2
  • #2 Key – Horses 8,3,1,6
  • #2 Key – Horses 9,4,7

Example Cost Calculation:
(R1 x R2 x R3) x C = 1 x 4 x 3
12 Combinations x $1 = $12


Wheel the fewest number of horses possible in each key. Smaller sets of horses decrease a pick bet’s cost. This strategy works best for races with one obvious winner. Don’t pay for combinations you don’t need!

Pick 3 Betting Reference

$1 Pick 3 Part Wheel with N Horses

Read as 1 horse for Race #1, with R2 Horses for Race #2, and R3 Horses for Race #3.

1 x R2 x R3 x $1 Cost/Combination

2,1 horses = $2 (1 with 2 horses R2 and 1 horses R3)
2,3 horses = $6 (1 with 2 horses R2 and 3 horses R3)
2,4 horses = $8
2,5 horses = $10
3,1 horses = $3
3,4 horses = $12
3,5 horses = $15
4,1 horses = $4
4,5 horses = $20
4,6 horses = $24
5,1 horses = $5
5,6 horses = $30
5,7 horses = $35

Horse Racing Required Reading

References: Pick Betting