If you are looking to get more “exotic” than placing a Win wager or playing an Exacta, the Trifecta bet may be for you.
To place a Trifecta bet you must choose at least three horses that you believe will finish first, second and third. To win the bet, those three horses must finish in that exact order.
Most tracks have a minimum increment of either $0.50 or $1 and there are two basic ways to make the wager, either a Trifecta Box or a Trifecta Key.
In our Exacta Betting article we talked about the payoffs of the 2021 Triple Crown. The $2 Exacta in the Belmont Stakes was just $15.00. The Preakness Exacta was $98.60 and in the Kentucky Derby it was $503.60.
The Trifecta in the Belmont Stakes with a 7-5 favorite on top with 9-2 and 5-1 returned just $21.70 for a $1. The Preakness Trifecta with a 12-1 winner followed by 3-1 and 5-2 paid $162.70. The Kentucky Derby Trifecta with the 12-1 winner, 26-1 runner up and 5-1 running third returned $1,696.90.
The lesson learned is look to play the Trifecta when you think you can beat the favorite, and the larger the field, the better opportunity you will have to cash a big ticket.
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It is difficult to predict the exact order of a Trifecta and a common wager is a Trifecta Box. You can take your top three contenders and for a $1 box the trio. The cost of the wager would be $6 and as long as they each run in the top three in any order, you cash.
If you added a fourth horse, the Trifecta Box bet would increase to $24. To box five horses the cost goes up to $60. A simple Trifecta box is not always the best play, as you essentially are giving each horse in the bet an equal chance.
Keying one or more horses you have a stronger opinion on gives you more room to add horses in the second and third spots.
Instead of boxing, if you key your horse or horses you have the strongest opinion on, you can use more contenders. A few examples using a $1 increment:
#1 with #2,#3,#4 with #2,#3,#4,#5,#6 = $12
#1,#2 with #1,#2,#3 with #1,#2,#3,#4,#5,#6 = $16
#1,#2 with #1,#2,#3,#4 with #1,#2,#3,#4,#5,#6 = $24
#1,#2,#3 with #1,#2,#3,#4 with #1,#2,#3,#4,#5,#6 = $36
With many tracks now offering the Trifecta with a $0.50 increment, the tickets above would be half the price, but of course the payoff would be cut in half as well.
Look for value when playing the Trifecta and don’t be afraid to play against the favorite. Look for overlays and contenders that are going to be a good price that have a shot of hitting the board.
Don’t key a short priced favorite on top unless you can find plenty of value underneath. Trifectas with fields of seven or less are generally not worth playing unless you see a vulnerable favorite.
Wagering on the Superfecta involves the same strategy as a Trifecta except now you have to come up with the fourth place finisher as well. Most tracks have lowered the increment to either $0.10 or $0.20, meaning you can cover plenty of combos. However, still use a strategy looking to beat the favorites and logical horses and play the Superfecta mainly when you have a larger field.
At most racetracks the favorite wins at a 30-35% clip. That means they lose more than they win. The key to hitting Trifectas and Superfectas and turning a consistent profit is finding those opportunities where your opinion differs from everyone else. When you are correct, you are going to get paid.