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How can you Box an Exacta in Horse Racing?

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Box an Exacta in Horse racing

Exacta is a type of bet in horse racing where you select the first and second place finishers in the race. Suppose if you have a $2.00 Exacta on numbers 8 and 2, then number 8 has to win and number 2 has to run second for you to win your bet. Exactas traditionally pay more than Quinellas but they are also harder to win as they have to run 1st and 2nd in order.

The formula for calculating the cost of an exacta box is (horses in box x (horses in box minus 1) x dollar amount of bet). Like in an example a $2 box of two horses would be (2 x 1 x 2) = $4. A $2 box of three horses would be (3 x 2 x 2) = $12. A $2 box of four horses would be (4 x 3 x 2) = $24.

As you can see the cost of the exacta box increases greatly with each additional horse. Also remember that you can wager a $1 exacta box. This reduces the amount of your wager by 50% but also reduces your earnings by 50%. Example to box an Exacta  3 Runners – $6.00, 4 Runners – $12.00, 5 Runners – $20.00, 6 Runners – $30.00, 7 Runners – $42.00, 8 Runners – $56.00, 9 Runners – $72.00 and do on for 10 or more runners.


So it shows you must pick the first two finishers in a race in the exact order they finish unless you box your bet. When it comes to betting on horse racing, boxing an exacta can be an easy way to add some strategy to your bets. Boxing lets your selections come in any order and still win. The exacta usually offers higher payoffs than win, place, or show wagers, but less than the trifecta, superfecta, high-5, or multi-race bets involving 3 or more races.

How can you Box an Exacta in Horse Racing?

  • First select the horses that you think have the best chance to finish in the top two positions
  • Go to the betting window and tell the clerk which track and race you wish to bet on and if betting online select the track and race.
  • Select if playing online and if you are present in a real physical track tell the clerk you’d like exacta box 1, 2, 3 or whichever horses you selected. Most tracks have a minimum price for exactas.
  • Make sure your ticket is correct before you leave the window. Same way check if playing online.
  • Take your ticket and watch and cheer for your selections.

The more horses you put in your box, the better chance you have of cashing your ticket, but note that your ticket will also be more expensive.

A dollar is generally the minimum wager on an exacta box but some tracks still require a two dollar or more minimum. You can always wager a larger amount if you like. For value, you do not want a result where the winning exacta involves the favorite and the second choice. This combination is always overbet.  You need a mid to long shot, preferably on top, to make the investment in the box worthwhile. If your handicapping of a given race gives you an odds on choice winning with the second choice on the bottom, the exacta box represents very poor value indeed.  Find longshots that could sneak in and find a way to eliminate one of your short priced selections, or pass the race. Also at online bookies and sports betting sited you have hundreds of races available every day that you can bet on.

If you can narrow a large field, like the 24-horse Melbourne Cup, down to three contenders with confidence that two of them will finish 1-2, this is where the exacta box is a recommended play. You might also make additional bets, perhaps in the Trifecta pool, to try to “amplify” your potential winnings if you handicapped it correctly, or place a “saver” win wager on your top choice  so you are still cashing if your top pick finishes on top but your other horses don’t show up.

It is always recommended to bet wisely and stick to your bankroll.


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