What is an Exacta Bet?

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Exacta Definition and Overview

The Exacta bet in horse racing is a great place to start learning about exotic bets. This means you can win big for a small bet stake.  The definition of an Exacta is to select the first two finishers in a horse race in exactly the right order.  Exacta betting is available on the most famous races like the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes and almost every other horse race in the world!


How to Bet an Exacta

What Exactly is an Exacta Bet in Horse Racing?

An Exacta bet in horse racing is the wager placed on which horses which will finish the race first and second, in the correct order.

What is the Minimum Stake on an Exacta Bet?

The minimum stake is usually $1 for an exacta bet, although some tracks do have a $2 minimum.  Online Exacta bets have the same minimum stake as betting Exactas at the track.

How to Make and Exacta Bet

You don't have to be at Churchill Downs or Belmont Park to make legal wagers on the world's most famous races. In fact you don't need to be at a race track at all.....or even an OTB!  Betting online on horse racing is legal in most states, but please ensure you make your online and mobile bets with a legal, safe and regulated website like TwinSpires.com.

How Much Can I Win With Exacta Bets

Winnings on Exacta bets are unlimited and are determined by the pari-mutuel system where all the winning tickets share the pool of money collected. If you had wagered $2 and correctly picked the Exacta in the 2012 Kentucky Derby the Exacta payoff would have been an astounding $981.60. A winning Exacta Bet from the 2009 Kentucky Derby generated an even bigger $2,074.60 payout when 50-1 runner Mine That Bird beat Pioneer of the Nile. However, in the 2016 Kentucky Derby, the favorite Nyquist beat the second favorite Exaggerator and the Kentucky Derby Exacta returned just $30.60 for each successful $2 exacta bet.

What is an Exacta Box Bet?

You still need to select the first and second horse in the correct order, but by boxing your selections, the two horses can finish in any order. This also allows you to choose more than two runners.  For example, if you choose three horses in a boxed exacta, any two of your horses need to finish first and second – but you now have six possible combinations, so a $1 boxed Exacta will cost you $6.

What is an Exacta Key Box Bet?

An exacta key box bet allows you to focus on one selection and select other "non-key" selections to finish alongside the "key." The Key Box exacta bet is very useful when you have one runner you are focusing on and wish to cover more options in your exactas, at a lower total cost than boxing all your selections.

Examples of Exacta Key Box Bets:

  • a $1 Exacta Key Box: 1/3,7 would cost $4  and is made up of two exatca box bets of 1 & 3 and  1 & 7 (the 1 must finish in the first two positions to have any chance of winning, and either 3 OR 7 must also finish in the first two)
  • a $2 Exacta Key Box: 1/3,7,9,10 would cost $16 and is made up exacta box bets of 1 & 3; 1 & 7, 1 & 9 and 1 & 10.

Learn more with our other betting resources below: