Wagering on vertical exotics gives handicappers various options to make investments in a single race. Many of the plays are common to current handicappers and have been in existence for years, yet those new to the game can find them confusing.

Here is what vertical wagers entail, and why they have appeal to horse players.

What are Vertical Exotics

Playing the vertical exotics consists of selecting the precise order of finish in a particular race. These bets have been a staple of racing for some time, and they often attract considerably more money in the pools than the traditional win-place-show bets do.

Types of Vertical Exotics

Exacta: The exacta is completed by the top two finishers of a race. It is the combination of the ‘win’ horse and the ‘place’ horse. The customary minimum investment is $1 for an exacta play.

Trifecta: Originating in the U. S. in 1971,  the goal of the trifecta is to successfully predict the first three horses to cross the wire in an event. This bet requires a 50-cent minimum stake at virtually all race tracks.

Superfecta: The ambitious superfecta wager can be among the most lucrative plays in a particular contest. Cashing in on a superfecta entails precisely selecting the first four finishers in a race. It is high-risk, high-reward play in general, and it consistently returns considerably more than the trifecta does. A 10-cent base wager for the superfecta is often the norm.

Super Hi-5: A relatively new addition to the wagering menu, the Hi-5 is not for the faint of heart. It requires handicappers to select the first five horses in order in a race. The base stake for this wager varies, but it can be as low as 20 cents.

How to Play Vertical Exotics

Vertical exotics tickets are relatively easy to construct. Bettors will select the horse or horses they predict will finish first, and they will do the same for the second-place finisher (and third, fourth, or fifth, depending on the type of wager selected). There are no restrictions on how many runners you can use in each slot, though the more contenders selected increases the cost of your ticket.

How Much do Vertical Exotics Cost

Figuring the cost of your wager will require some basic multiplication. You will multiply the horse or horses in the first leg, by the number of different runners in the second leg for an exacta (and use the same pattern going down for other wagers, if applicable). It may be best explained with an example, and I will use a $1 base wager for the instance below.

A mythical exacta play using 6 with 3,5,7 is essentially three separate wagers on one ticket. It translates to a $3 total investment:

  • Wager #1: 6-3 ($1)
  • Wager #2: 6-5 ($1)
  • Wager #3: 6-7 ($1)

A mythical trifecta play using 6 with 3,5,7 is essentially six separate wagers on one ticket, equaling a $6 bet.

  • Wager #1: 6-3-5 ($1)
  • Wager #2: 6-3-7 ($1)
  • Wager #3: 6-5-3 ($1)
  • Wager #4: 6-5-7 ($1)
  • Wager #5: 6-7-3 ($1)
  • Wager #6: 6-7-5 ($1)

Why Play Vertical Exotics

The vertical exotics attract hefty pools, which in turn offers a better chance for a sizable reward compared to win-place-show action. In addition, vertical wagers are offered in every race, giving horses players the opportunity to start with a clean slate every 30 minutes or so.

I have not touched base on terms ‘box’, ‘key’, ‘wheel’, ‘part-wheel’, ‘key box’, etc. in this piece, but I will delve deeper in “5 Tips for Playing Vertical Exotics: Part 2.”