Betting Guide for Horse Racing

Win: You win if your horse finishes first.

Place: You win if your horse finishes either first or second.

Show: You win if your horse finishes either first, second or third. Wagering on a horse "to show" has the best chance of winning, however it will pay the least amount.

Exacta: Selecting the two horses to finish first and second in the exact order.

Quinella: Selecting the two horses to finish first and second in either order. Graded as "action" only if offered by track.

Trifecta: Selecting three horses to finish first, second and third in the exact order.

Daily Double: Selecting the winners of two designated (consecutive) races. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the two races. The Daily Double is generally offered on the day's first two and last two races. Rolling Daily Doubles are offered on every race.

Pick 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: Selecting the winners of three, four, five, six, seven or eight designated races run in succession. does offer wagering on Pick 3 and 4, but does not offer Pick 5, 6, 7 or 8 wagering.

Superfecta: Selecting four horses to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

Boxes: A box is simply an easy way of placing different combinations for an exacta or trifecta. For example, in one race you like three horses (2, 4, and 7) and feel that two of those three horses are going to finish first and second, however you don't know in which order. You can place an exacta box on 2, 4, and 7, which means you are placing an exacta wager on every possible 1st/2nd finish combination for the 2, 4, and 7 horses (six in total). The same applies for trifectas, although wagers are being placed on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in the race.

Wheels/Partial Wheels: A wheel is a simple way to pick your favorite horse to win and all other horses to finish in second (and third, for trifectas). An exacta wheel on the 4 horse would mean that you are picking the 4 horse to win and all other horses to place. A Partial Wheel is a specific selection of the horses you believe will finish after your favorite. For example, you would ask for a Partial Wheel exacta on the 4 horse, with the 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 10 horses. This would be six total wagers with the 4 horse finishing first and the 2, 3, 4, 7, 9, and 10 horses finishing second.

Keys: A key is a simple way to pick your favorite horse to win and a group of at least two other horses to finish second or third, depending on whether it is an exacta key or a trifecta key. For example, in an exacta you could ask to key the 4 horse with the 6 and 9, meaning that you want two wagers: 1) the 4 horse to finish first and the 6 horse in second, and 2) the 4 horse to finish first and the 9 horse in second.

Morning Line: The morning line odds are displayed in the official track program and serve as the opening line for wagering on all races. The morning line is simply an educated opinion of how the wagering public will bet on each horse.

Live Odds: The odds posted at the track are a reflection of money wagered on a given horse relative to the total win pool. The odds change every 30 seconds as new money is wagered in the win pool. All payouts for American tracks will be based on the closing odds, not the odds at the time the bet was placed.

Coupled Entries: A coupled entry in a race is when two or more horses with either a common owner or trainer are deemed as ONE entry for wagering purposes. Thus, the coupled entry is comprised of two or more horses and is regarded as a single betting interest. Typically, one of the two coupled horses will be scratched. In this case, all wagers placed on the scratched horse will be honored according to how the other horse finishes. When both horses run, all wagers will be paid out according to the higher finishing horse. If neither of the two horses finish in the top three, (or four for superfecta wagers), all wagers on these horses will be graded as losers.

Calculating Payouts

For the examples below, we will use this result:

Horse Win Place Show
4 4.20 2.20 2.10
2   3.20 2.60
8     4.50

$2 Ex. (4-2) pays $56
$2 Tri. (4-2-8) pays $136

Win/Place/Show: You wagered $25 to Win, and your horse has won the race and is paying $4.20 on a $2 wager. You would calculate the winnings as follows:

Payouts are calculated by taking the Posted Payout Amount (4.20 in this case) and multiplying it by the amount you have wagered ($25). Next you divide this number by two, assuming that the posted payouts are using a $2 wager as their standard. The result is your total payout, including the profit and the amount you originally risked. To determine just your profit, subtract the amount wagered from the total payout.

Winning W/P/S Ticket Payout = (P * W) / 2

P = Posted Payout Amount for a $2 ticket
W = Amount Wagered by the player


As a sportsbook, we are often asked by our clients, "Why do you guys have max payout odds." It's not because we are trying to scam you! There is a very legitimate reason why sportsbooks implement max payout odds.

When you are at the track, you are playing against other players. For every dollar wagered on exotics (exactas, trifectas, daily doubles, Pick 3, 4, and 6s), the track takes a piece of the action and places the rest in the pool. The payout is determined by the total pool amount divided by the winning tickets. For W/P/S, the odds for horses and their respective payouts are determined by the action the track is taking on each horse. Whether it is Win, Place or Show or exotic wagers, every dollar wagered effects the payout amount.

However, we are clearly not a part of the track, and we do not pay into a pari-mutuel. Therefore, we are not able to set the odds according to the action we are taking. You are playing against a sportsbook and not against other players at the track. We implement max payout odds in order to protect our business.

BetNorth's respected online horsebook is happy to assist players with any questions they may have related to horse betting.