Exacta Bet in Horse Racing – Understanding the Basics

exacta bet

6 minutes

Last Updated: February 15, 2023

If you are new to horse racing, at first it can be overwhelming to wrap your head around all of the available betting options.

So, to help you with your transition to horse betting, we have decided to break down all of the most popular betting options, and today we will talk about the exacta bet.

The exacta bet allows bettors to pick two horses that they think will finish in the first and second place.

However, if you are planning to take horse betting seriously, there are a few more things that you should know about this bet type, and we will be discussing them in the text below.

What Is an Exacta Bet in Horse Racing?

In horse racing, punters use the exacta bet when they want to place a wager that predicts which horse will finish as the winner of the race as well as which horse will be the runner-up.

The exacta bet will only be a winning one if the punter correctly predicts both horses as well as the order in which they will end the race.

When placing an exacta bet, the punters will be asked to choose which horses will end in the first two places in the, for example:

  • If a punter thinks that horse 8 will finish in 1st place and horse 4 will finish in 2nd place, his bet will be marked as an 8-4 bet.

The punter must predict the exact order of the first two horses to win the bet, and this is where the name of the bet exacta (exactly) originates from.

With this said, predicting the winner of a race is a difficult task by itself, let alone predicting the first two horses in the exact order. However, there are some variations of this bet that give horse bettors an easier task.

what is an exacta bet

What Is an Exacta Box Bet in Horse Racing?

The exacta box bet allows punters to predict which two horses will finish in the first two places.

The main difference between the exacta box bet and the exacta is that the exacta box bet does not require bettors to predict the exact finishing order of the horses.

For example, if you think that horses 8 and 4 will finish in the first two places, but you are not sure in which order, you can place an 8-4 exacta box bet.

This means that as long as both horse 8 and horse 4 finish in the first two places, your bet will be a winning one, no matter the order of the horses.

This is why the exacta box bet is a lot easier to predict correctly than the exacta bet.

If you are new to horse betting and you are not confident in your predicting skills, but you want to try the exacta bet, we would advise that you first start with the exacta box bet.

What Is an Exacta Key Box Bet in Horse Racing?

exacta key box

Another popular variation of the exacta bet is the exacta key box bet. The exacta key box bet allows punters to select one horse (key) that they want to focus the majority of their stake on and add additional options to fill the other placing at a lower stake.

In order to explain this bet properly, we have prepared an example:

If a punter places a $10 1,4/8 exacta key box bet, essentially this bet combines two different exacta bets into one.

In this example, horse number 8 is the key horse, and horses 1 and 4 are alternative choices. This means that the first exacta is the 1-8 bet and the second one is the 4-8 bet.

For the punter to win this exact key box bet, horse number 8 must finish in one of the two first positions while either horse 1 or horse 4 must finish in one of the other two positions.

If the race ends in one of the following placements, this exacta box bet will be a winning one:

  • 1st place horse 8, 2nd place horse 1
  • 1st place horse 1, 2nd place horse 8
  • 1st place horse 8, 2nd place horse 4
  • 1st place horse 4, 2nd place horse 8

As you can see, in all of the examples, horse 8, or the key horse has finished in either first or second place, while one of the other two cover horses has filled the other spot.

How to Place An Exacta Bet in Horse Racing?

To place an exacta bet on a horse race, you will need to complete several steps that are pretty straightforward forward and once you go through them a couple of times they will become second nature.

With this said, here is how to place an exacta bet with an online bookmaker:

  1. Open your online bookmaker and log in
  2. Open the “Horse racing” section of the website
  3. Select the horse race on which you want to place an exacta bet
  4. In the betting options, select the option “Exacta bet”
  5. Select which variant of the exacta bet you want to place
  6. Pick your horses based on the type of bet you are placing
  7. Enter your stake
  8. Double-check your selections and your stake
  9. Select the “Place bet” option

Top Horse Betting Tips

Now that you learned everything there is about the exacta bet, it is time to look at some of the best horse betting tips that will help you improve your bottom line.

Bankroll Management

One of the first things that you need to create in order to become a successful bettor is a betting bankroll.

Creating a bankroll that is separated from the money you use for living is extremely important as it will help you prevent risking money that you can’t afford to lose which is the first rule of gambling.

exacta horse racing

A horse betting bankroll will allow you to survive all the ups and downs of the betting business without getting too hyped when you are on a winning streak as well as not trying to recover your losses when you are on a bad streak.

One good rule of thumb that you should use is to never wager more than 3% of you bankroll on a single race.

Finding Value

When it comes to betting on horses, there are two main strategies that almost all punters use, the first one is finding value and the second one is insider information.

Since the large majority of punters do not have access to insider information, you should focus on finding value.

Essentially, betting for value means betting on horses that have a better chance to achieve something in the race (for example win it or place) than the betting odds are showing.

If you are continually successfully placing value bets, you are destined for success. However, the downside of this strategy is that variance plays a big role in your short-term success, and this is why we recommend strict bankroll management.

Doing Research

Horses, just like jockeys, are beings of habit. This is why you need to do your due diligence before placing a bet.

exacta box

Learning the habits of the horse as well as the jockey can go a long way in you picking winners. If you add other factors such as the weather, turf, and length of the race, you are already doing more research than 80% of punters.

Combining your research with proper bankroll management and only placing bets when you know there is value, are the three pillars of a successful horse racing bettor.

Final Thoughts on the Exacta Bet in Horse Racing

The exacta bet has gained popularity, especially with amateur bettors, thanks to the fact that it offers a chance for bigger payouts than some of the other basic bets.

With that said, the exacta bet is one of the hardest bets to hit, and this is why a lot of punters use other variations of the bet such as the exacta box bet or the exacta key box bet to reduce their variance.

But one is for sure, whichever of these bets you choose to try out, you are guaranteed to have some fun!

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