Trifecta Bet Definition and Introduction

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When you're ready to tackle some of the more complex bets, why not try a Trifecta? The definition of a Trifecta is the correct selection of the first, second, and third place finishers across the wire in the exact order. Trifecta betting is popular because even a small wager can have a big payoff due to the difficulty of correctly selecting the top 3 finishers.


How to Bet a Trifecta

What is a Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing?

In horse racing or greyhound racing, a Trifecta bet is when you place a bet on the three horses which you think will finish the race first and second and third, in a specific order.  If they finish in the correct order you win, and you can win big!

What is the Minimum Stake on a Trifecta bet?

The minimum stake for an online trifecta bet is usually either $.50 or $1 minimum.  Trifecta bets are available on almost all horse racing around the world, and cover all breeds of racing including trifecta bets on thoroughbred racing, trifecta bets on harness racing and trifecta bets on greyhound racing.

How Much Can I Win on a Trifecta Bet?

Winnings on Trifecta bets are unlimited and are determined by the pari-mutuel system where all winning tickets share the pool of money collected. Winning on a Trifecta in horse racing is very difficult to achieve, but the rewards are due the long odds and big payoffs. If you had wagered $2 and correctly picked the Trifecta in the 2016 Belmont Stakes the Trifecta payoff would have been $2,751.  The top three finishers - Creator (1st), Destin (2nd) and Lani (3rd) also all happened to be grey, so no matter what your angle, you can hit it big with a trifecta!

What is a Boxed Trifecta Bet?

You still need to select the first three finishers in the correct order, but by boxing your selections, they can finish in any combination. This also means you can choose more than three runners. Example:

  • any three selections in a boxed trifecta is 6 bets
  • any four selections in a boxed trifecta is 24 bets
  • any five selections in a boxed trifecta is 60 bets
  • any six selections in a boxed trifecta is 120 bets
  • any seven selections in a boxed trifecta is 210 bets

What is a Trifecta Key Box Bet?

A Trifecta key box bet allows you to focus on one selection and select other “non-key” selections to finish alongside your “key” selection.

The Trifecta key box wager is useful when you have one runner you strongly like and desire to cover more options in your trifectas, all while keeping total ticket cost lower than if you boxed all your selections.

Trifecta Key Box Example:

  • a $1 Trifecta Key Box: 1,3/5,7 would cost $12 and is made up of two trifecta bets that include a box; of 1 with 5,7 and 3 with 5,7 (the 1 AND 3 are "KEYS" and one of them must finish in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd to have any chance of winning, and the 5 and 7 must finish in the other 2 Trifecta spots.) Essentially it would be the same as having 2 Trifecta Boxes: 1,5,7 and 3,5,7.

Trifecta Bets on the Kentucky Derby

With a large field of 20 runners trifecta bets are a great way to win big on the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May each year.  The largest trifecta payout in recent years was in 2009 when the 50-1 chance Mine That Bird won the race and was followed home in second place by 5-1 Pioneer of the Nile and third was Musket Man at 18-1.  A successful $2 trifecta bet on the 2009 Kentucky Derby returned a huge $41,500!

Making a Trifecta Bet Online

You don't have to be at the track to place a bet on horse racing in the United States. Betting on horse races online is legal in most states. However, make sure you place your online and mobile bets through a legal, safe and regulated website like

Don't worry if you are unsure of staking, the BetAmerica betting pages offer you the total number of bets and total stake needed as you build your wagers, so you can check all totals before placing your bets!

Learn more with our other betting resources below: