Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing – Understanding the Basics

trifecta bet

6 minutes

Last Updated: January 26, 2023

If you are looking to make some money on the track, you first want to learn as much as you can about all of the betting options available to you.

Placing easy bets, like picking a winner, is one the most common bets in horse racing. However, on some occasions, placing other types of bets, like the trifecta, might be the best way to go.

For all of you unfamiliar with this type of bet, the trifecta bet allows punters to select which three horses will finish in the first three places, and in which order.

What Is a Trifecta?

Punters who are placing a trifecta bet are choosing the correct order in which the first three horses will finish in a race.

The trifecta is one of the hardest bets to hit in horse racing. However, the main reason why bettors, especially amateur ones, love this bet is that it can offer some pretty insane payouts.

One of the most common misconceptions about the trifecta bet is that you only need to choose which three horses will finish in the first three places. The truth is that you also need to select the correct order of those horses to have a winning trifecta bet.

what is trifecta bet

If you have been involved with horse racing in any capacity, you know how hard it is to choose the winner of the race, let alone the first three horses in the correct order.

Because of this, potential payouts for trifecta bets can be equal to winning a small lottery. The biggest-ever payout for this type of bet was back in 1983 in Oakleigh Plate, when a lucky bettor won $348,849 after staking $1.

As you can see hitting a trifecta can be very hard, and this is why online bookies usually offer different variations of this bet, such as the Flexi trifectas and the Boxed trifectas.

What Is a Boxed Trifecta in Horse Racing?

In horse racing, the boxed trifecta bet is one of the variations of the trifecta bet, which allows punters to select which three horses will finish in the first three places.

For the regular trifecta to be a winning one, the punter must select the horses in the correct order. With the boxed trifecta bet, the punter only needs to correctly choose which horses will finish in the top three places.

When placing this bet, bettors can invest additional money to add more selections to their bet and cover more outcomes.

For example, if a punter chooses horses 5, 6, and 7 and he wants to place a boxed trifecta bet with $1 stake per selection, he will need to stake $6 since there are six possible outcomes:

  1. 5-6-7
  2. 5-7-6
  3. 6-5-7
  4. 6-7-5
  5. 7-5-6
  6. 7-6-5

Because the cost increases with each new selection added to the ticket, these types of bets can be very expensive. To better put it in perspective, here are a few examples:

  • If you choose to place a boxed trifecta with 5 horses and a $1 stake per selection, this bet will cost you $60 as there are 60 possible outcomes
  • Selecting 6 horses into a boxed trifecta with a $1 stake per selection will cost you $120 as this bet has 120 possible outcomes
  • A 7-selection boxed trifecta has 210 possible outcomes, so if you bet $1 per selection, this bet will cost you $210

As you can see, adding only one horse to the selection can double the cost of your bet. So, if you have a limited budget, you might be better off with the flexi trifecta.

boxed trifecta bet

What Is a Flexi Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing?

Just like the boxed trifecta, the flexi trifecta allows punters to add multiple selections to their trifecta bet.

The main difference between the boxed trifecta and the flexi trifecta is that the flexi trifecta allows bettors to put a limit on their stake.

This is why a lot of horse bettors that have a limited betting budget prefer to go with the flexi trifecta instead of the boxed trifecta.

In practice, the flexi trifecta allows bettors to select as many horses as they want without having to stake more money.

The flexi trifecta bet works in the following way:

  • When you select your horses and your stake, the bookmakers will calculate how much money you can afford to stake per selection and accept your bet based on this.
  • If you place a five-horse flexi trifecta and stake $20, the bookie will first calculate how much your bet would cost for a $1 per selection stake.
  • As we mentioned previously, a 5-horse boxed trifecta would cost $60.
  • After calculating the price of your bet with the regular stake, the bookie will then divide the amount of your bet with the regular stake: (20 / 60) X 100 = 0.33 X 100 = 33%
  • Finally, the bookmakers will multiply the payout for a $1 per selection bet with the percentage to get your potential payout. So if the payout for a selection is $200 the calculation would go like this: 200 X 0.33 = 66 or 33% of 200 = 66

In this case, your payout would be around three times lower because your stake is around three times lower.

While the boxed trifecta and the flexi trifecta are the two most popular variations of the trifecta bet, they are not the only two available. Keep reading to find out more about the standout trifecta bet and the roving trifecta bet.

What Is a Standout Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing?

The standout trifecta bet allows horse racing punters to select one horse they think will win the race and several other horses to fill the minor placing.

In practice, the standout bet works like this:

  • A bettor chooses one horse to be a winner, for example, horse 7, which is called the standout horse.
  • He then he chooses horses 8,9, and 10 which need to finish in second and third place in any order.
  • The bettor can also choose the standout horse to finish in the 2nd (or 3rd place, and the other two horses to finish in the 1st or the 3rd (2nd) place.

What Is a Roving Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing?

trifecta bet in horse racing

The roving trifecta bet allows punters to select one horse (the banker) which must finish in the top three places and then select two or more horses that will fill the other two positions.

The roving trifecta can be placed with one roving banker or two roving bankers.

If a punter places one roving banker trifecta with horse 7 as his banker and horses 4, 6, and 9 as his other selections, horse number 7 must finish in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, and two of the other three horses must fill the other placings.

How to Place a Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing?

Placing a trifecta bet on an online bookmaker can either be pretty straightforward or extremely tricky, depending on how much attention they give to the user experience.

With this said following the next steps will allow you to place this bet on most online betting sites:

  1. Open your betting platform and log in
  2. Select the “Horse Racing” section and choose your race
  3. In the betting menu, select the option “Trifecta bet”
  4. Select which type of trifecta bet you want to place
  5. Then based on your opinion and the bet type, select the horses you think are winners
  6. Type in the amount of money you want to stake and check out the betting odds
  7. Select the “Place Bet” option

Online betting sites allow their customers to place one trifecta bet at a time, so you will have to repeat this process multiple times depending on how many bets you want to place.

Final Thoughts About the Trifecta Bet

The trifecta bet is a great choice for experienced amateur punters that are looking to add some adrenalin and fun to their betting game.

Another advantage of the trifecta bet is that thanks to its many variations it allows bettors to try out different strategies which they might be unable to implement when using other types of bets.

Finally, this bet allows punters to have a chance of hitting what every gambler dreams of, a big score with a minimum investment.

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