The Exacta Box: A Comprehensive Guide to Betting on Horse Racing

When it comes to horse racing, there are numerous betting options available to punters. One popular and potentially lucrative bet is the exacta box. In this article, we will delve into the world of exacta box betting, exploring what it is, how it works, and why it can be a valuable strategy for horse racing enthusiasts.

What is an Exacta Box?

An exacta box is a type of bet where you select multiple horses to finish in the top two positions in any order. In other words, you are betting on two horses to come in first and second place, but you do not have to predict the exact order in which they will finish. This increases your chances of winning, but it also comes at a higher cost.

For example, let’s say you want to place an exacta box bet on a race with horses A, B, and C. If you place a $2 exacta box bet, it will cost you $12 ($2 x 3 x 2 = $12) because there are six possible combinations: AB, AC, BA, BC, CA, and CB.

How Does an Exacta Box Work?

When you place an exacta box bet, you are essentially covering multiple outcomes with a single wager. This means that as long as the two horses you selected finish in the top two positions, regardless of the order, you win the bet.

Let’s continue with our previous example. If horse A finishes first and horse B finishes second, you win the exacta box bet. The same applies if horse B finishes first and horse A finishes second. In both cases, you have covered the winning combination.

It’s important to note that an exacta box bet can be more expensive than a regular exacta bet because you are covering multiple combinations. However, the increased cost is offset by the higher chances of winning.

Advantages of Betting on an Exacta Box

There are several advantages to betting on an exacta box:

  • Increased Chances of Winning: By covering multiple combinations, an exacta box bet increases your chances of winning compared to a regular exacta bet.
  • Flexibility: With an exacta box, you do not have to predict the exact order in which the horses will finish. This gives you more flexibility and reduces the risk of losing due to a small margin of error.
  • Potential for Higher Payouts: Depending on the odds of the horses you select, an exacta box bet can result in higher payouts compared to other types of bets.

When to Use an Exacta Box Bet

An exacta box bet can be a valuable strategy in certain situations:

  • Uncertain Race: If you are unsure about the order in which the top two horses will finish, an exacta box bet allows you to cover multiple possibilities.
  • Competitive Field: In races with a highly competitive field, it can be challenging to predict the exact order of finish. An exacta box bet provides a safety net by allowing you to cover multiple combinations.
  • High Confidence in Two Horses: If you have a strong belief that two horses will finish in the top two positions, but you are unsure about the order, an exacta box bet allows you to capitalize on your confidence.

Case Study: The Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby, one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, is a prime example of when an exacta box bet can be advantageous. The race typically features a large field of talented horses, making it difficult to predict the exact order of finish.

In the 2020 Kentucky Derby, the exacta box bet paid out handsomely. The winning combination was Authentic (horse A) and Tiz the Law (horse B), but the order in which they finished was unpredictable. Punters who placed an exacta box bet on these two horses were able to cash in on their success, regardless of the order.


1. How much does an exacta box bet cost?

The cost of an exacta box bet depends on the number of horses you select. To calculate the cost, multiply the number of horses by (number of horses minus one) and then multiply the result by the bet amount. For example, a $2 exacta box bet with three horses would cost $12 ($2 x 3 x 2 = $12).

2. Can I include more than three horses in an exacta box bet?

Yes, you can include as many horses as you like in an exacta box bet. However, keep in mind that the more horses you include, the higher the cost of the bet.

3. What happens if one of my selected horses is scratched?

If one of your selected horses is scratched before the race, your bet will automatically be converted into an exacta bet with the remaining horses. For example, if you initially selected horses A, B, and C, but horse C is scratched, your bet will become an exacta bet on horses A and B.

4. Can I place an exacta box bet online?

Yes, most online sportsbooks and betting platforms offer the option to place an exacta box bet. Simply select the horses you want to include and choose the exacta box option when placing your bet.

5. Are there any strategies to improve my chances of winning with an exacta box bet?

While horse racing is inherently unpredictable, there are a few strategies you can employ to increase your chances of winning with an exacta box bet:

  • Research the Horses: Study the past performances, track records, and jockey-trainer combinations of the horses you are considering. This will give you valuable insights into their potential performance.
  • Consider the Odds: Take into account the odds of each horse when selecting your exacta box combination. Including a longshot with a favorite can result in a higher payout if they both finish in the top two positions.
  • Observe the Track Conditions: Pay attention to the track conditions, as some horses perform better on certain surfaces or in specific weather conditions.


The exacta box is a popular and potentially lucrative betting strategy in horse racing. By selecting multiple horses to finish in the top two positions in any order, punters increase their chances of winning. The flexibility and

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