Betting an Exacta is one of the most popular wagers among horseplayers. The Exacta is simply picking the top two finishers in a race in the exact order.
Well, perhaps it is not as simple as it sounds, particularly if you are dealing with a large field. However, putting the winner and runner up together can produce a nice payoff compared to just betting a horse to Win or Place.
Let’s take a look at the 2021 Triple Crown. In the Belmont Stakes the favorite Essential Quality (7/5) topped runner up Hot Rod Charlie (9/2) in an eight-horse field, the $2 exacta paying just $15.00. In the Preakness Stakes three weeks earlier we had Rombauer (11/1) winning over Midnight Bourbon (3/1) with the $2 exacta returning $98.60 in a 10-horse field.
The Triple Crown started off with Medina Spirit winning the Kentucky Derby at 12-1 with Mandaloun the runner up at 26-1 in a 19-horse field. The $2 exacta paid a hefty $503.60.
The most common Exacta wager horseplayers use is an Exacta Box. If you like two contenders you can play an Exacta Box and it cashes as long as the two horses finish one-two in any order. A $2 exacta box of #1 and #2 would cost $4 and as long as it came in 1-2 or 2-1 the ticket is a winner.
A three-horse exacta box for $2 will cost you $12. (Most tracks now have a $1 minimum on Exactas).
An Exacta Key is normally better to play than just boxing your contenders. If you play a $2 Exacta Box using three contenders, you are basically saying all three have an equal chance of winning and/or running second. What if you liked one or two horses more for the win and several others that seem more likely to run second?
For the same $12 boxing the top three contenders you can play the two you like the most to win and spread more in the second spot
How about a $2 Exacta key #1, #2 over #1,#2,#3,#4. This wager would cost $12 and would hit as long as either the #1 or #2 won the race, and any of your four contenders finished in the runner-up spot.
If you have a stronger opinion on the winner you could play the $12 this way: A $2 Exacta Key #1 over #2,#3,#4,#5,#6,#7. Or double the wager and play a $4 Exacta Key #1 over #2,#3,#4.
Make sure your Exacta wagers line up with your opinion of the race.
Before placing a wager on the PlayUp betting platform look over the Will Pays and see if you can find value. If you see a combination that looks like an overlay, play that combo stronger. If you see a combo that looks like an underlay, lower the wager or don’t be afraid to pass if the value is not there.