Understanding Horse Racing Bet Types

Betting on horses can be a lot of fun, that is if you know what you're doing. If you don't, you can get crushed pretty quickly. This is my story about losing my ass at the track and how you can learn from my mistakes. It all started a few years ago when I got a random call from a buddy...

How Not Knowing Types of Bets Bets Can Cost You Money

On the phone, he inquired what I was up to that evening, and I told him that I was free. He went on to see if I wanted to join him at a local horse track that night to hang out for a few drinks. Since I didn't have anything else going on that night, I agreed to join him.

My main goal was to get the chance to sync up with a buddy over a few beers that I had not seen live in quite some time. I had no interest in horse betting at all. In all actuality, I had never set foot in a horse track before in my life.

We met up at the track around 7 pm that night. We grabbed our first round of drinks and headed over towards the observation area.

It wasn't long before he asked if I planned to wager that night. I explained to him that I didn't know a thing about horse betting and really didn't have any interest in it. After hearing that, he went up to the desk and placed a handful of bets for himself.

A couple of races later, my buddy jumped up out of his seat while I was mid-sentence. I was confused as to what was going on, but apparently, he had just won some serious cash! I hadn't even taken notice that another race had just finished but he did as he had wagered on that race. My friend made over $100 on a single bet for that race. All of the sudden, I became interested.

In my head, I remember thinking, this seems easy. If my buddy had just made $100, I could too! Unfortunately, I found out quickly that it wasn't that easy.

My buddy explained to me what he thought I needed to know. I came to find out after the fact that my friend did not have a good idea of what was actually going on. He just happened to get lucky.

Coupling my friend's poor advice with my lack of knowledge and buzz from the alcohol, I was doomed from the get-go. I began placing bets on something that I knew nothing about. It was not pretty at all.

To make matters even worse, I had money burning a hole in my pocket. Earlier that day, I had picked up a cash bonus at work for hitting a sales target. It was found money to me, and I made the mistake of bringing it with me.

To fast forward a bit, at the end of the night, I had blown through the entire $300 cash bonus. While some of that went to beers, the lion's share of it went to bets that I did not win. I without a doubt completely lost my ass that night.

Horse Racing Betting

After the hangover haze had worn off the next day, I began to piece together what had occurred the night before. From what I could gather, the effects of the alcohol and my lack of betting on horse racing knowledge contributed to my loss. The drinking was one thing, but the bets were really my downfall.

After more contemplation, I found my bet receipts from the night before. As I thumbed through them, I was thinking to myself what on earth did I do. I noticed the amount of the bets steadily increasing as the night (and number of beers) went on. I also noticed bet type names on the receipts that I didn't have a clue what they meant.

You see, in my drunken stupor, I began to make bets that my buddy (with his poor education of horse betting) suggested. My receipts contained names such as quinella, superfecta, and daily double. I had no idea what on earth any of those meant.

I had basically thrown my money out the window. Had I understood what the different types of bets actually meant, I might have come out ahead. Instead, I bet blindly and paid for it dearly. My goal is to help you not end up in my shoes.

Below, I'll walk you through the different types of bets that you can make on horse racing. My explanations should help you have at least a basic understanding before you head off to the track. I've learned much more about betting on horses online without the fear of embarrassing myself at the track.

Types of Bets

At most horse racing tracks, you're going to find that there are 11 main types of bets that you can make on the races. With so many options, I've put together an easy to read chart that you can use as a quick reference point. I'll go into deeper detail on each one below the chart so that you can learn more about each option.

Bet Type Description
Show Your picked horse must finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place.
Place Your picked horse must finish 1st or 2nd place.
Win Your picked horse must finish in 1st place.
Quinella Your picked horses must finish 1st and 2nd place in either order.
Exacta Your picked horses must finish 1st and 2nd place in exact order.
Trifecta Your picked horses must finish in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in exact order.
Superfecta Your picked horses must finish in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in exact order.
Daily Double Your picked horses must finish 1st places in two consecutive races.
Pick 3 Your picked horses must finish 1st place in three consecutive races.
Pick 4 Your picked horses must finish 1st place in four consecutive races.
Pick 6 Your picked horses must finish 1st place in six consecutive races.


Show is one of the most common types of bets that is placed on horse races. When you place a show bet, the horse that you pick must finish either in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in order for you to get paid. If your horse does not finish in one of these three places, you lose your wager.


If you're feeling a bit more confident in a particular horse, you might consider placing a place bet. When you place a place bet, the horse that you pick must finish in either 1st or 2nd place in order for you to win the bet. If your picked horse does not finish in the top two spots, you lose the wager.


As the name implies, a win bet means that you think a particular horse will win the race. If your picked horse finishes in 1st place, you'll win the bet. It's as simple as that.


A quinella is a more advanced horse bet than the three previous ones. For a quinella bet, you'll pick two horses. Those two horses must go on to finish in 1st and 2nd place. One great thing about a quinella bet is that the order that they finish does not matter. All that matters is that the two horses that you picked took the top two spots.


An exacta bet is similar to the quinella with one main exception. Unlike the quinella where the finish order does not matter, an exacta requires that you pick two horses and the exact order that they will finish in. You'll select two different horses and state which one will take 1st and 2nd place.


If an exacta bet is not challenging enough for you, consider a trifecta bet. For a trifecta bet, you'll select three different horses and pick which one will finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. If your picked horses don't finish in that exact order, you'll lose your wager.


Taking the trifecta bet up another notch, a superfecta bet is even harder to achieve. For a superfecta, you must pick 4 horses and pick the exact order 1st through 4th that they will finish in. If you can select the right winning order, you'll win the bet!

Daily Double

Changing things up a bit, we move onto the daily double bet. In this bet, you pick two horses to win two consecutive races. Your goal is the pick the 1st place finisher for back to back races. If you can pick correctly, you'll win your daily double bet!

Pick 3

Similar to the daily double, a pick 3 bet requires that you pick three horses to win 3 consecutive races. Your three picks must all take 1st place in back to back races. If they don't win, you lose your wager.

Pick 4

If a pick 3 isn't enough for you, step it up to a pick 4. Hopefully, you've guessed where this one is heading. For a pick 4, you've got to pick four different horses that all have to win 1st place in their race. If all four horses win back to back, you've won your pick 4 bet!

Pick 6

Lastly, we have the pick 6 bet. This is the hardest bet to achieve in horse racing. For a pick 6, you have to pick 6 different horses to finish in 1st place back to back. Unless all six of your picks finish in 1st place in their race, you'll lose the amount you wagered.

Betting Online

Betting on horses online can be a great way to gain a better understanding of how bets work before you head to the track in person. I wish I had known this before I went there for the first time. It's a great way to gain an understanding of what is going on.

If you're looking for some of the best horse racing betting sites, you can visit our sports betting sites page which lists our recommended sites for all types of sports betting - Including horse racing!