2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting 101: How to Bet on Horse Racing & Terms to Know

2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting 101: How to Bet on Horse Racing & Terms to Know article feature image
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Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images. Pictured: Fans looking at their Breeders’ Cup programs.

If you are new to horse racing or just need a refresher on how things work with the ponies, no worries. We have a basic glossary of terms below to help you bet the ponies ahead of the 2021 Breeders’ Cup extravaganza, which takes place Friday and Saturday at Del Mar Racetrack in California.


Stay tuned for complete, in-depth coverage of this year’s Breeders’ Cup from handicapper Jeremy Pond, who will provide his detailed thoughts and breakdown of the events on the two-day race schedule.


Where  to Bet on Horse Racing

Some state racing associations, NYRA for example, offer an app for users to place bets. There are OTBs (Off-Track Betting shops) around the states.

You could also go to any race track and bet on the Derby — or any race around the country. And in some states, there are select bars with betting kiosks. My favorite spot to bet horses is Churchill’s in Rockville Centre, a beautiful village on Long Island. You’re welcome to stop by any time.

Types of Bets: Exacta, Trifecta & More

There are plenty of ways to bet on horse racing, and while they are pretty simple once you get the hang of it, you may hear some weird track-slang thrown around. Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

To Win: A bet on a particular horse to win. Easy enough, right?

To Place: A bet on a particular horse to finish second.

To Show: A wager on a particular horse to finish third.

Win, Place, Show: A bet on a particular horse to win, place (finish second) or show (finish third). In other words, if the horse you bet on finishes first, second or third you win.

Exacta: A bet on two horses to finish first and second, in order. In other words, if you bet an exacta with the No. 12 horse and No. 20 horse and punch in a 12/20 exacta, the No. 12 horse needs to finish first and the No. 20 horse needs to finish second. This is different from an exacta box (defined below). You can bet exactas with more than two horses.

Exacta Box: An exacta wager, but it doesn’t matter which horse finishes first and which finishes second. Example: If you play an exacta box with the No. 12, No. 20 and No. 7 horse and the No. 7 horse finishes first and the No. 20 horse finishes second, you’re a winner. There’s no limit to the number of horses you can place in an exacta box.

Trifecta: A wager picking the first three finishers in exact order. Basically, an exacta with three horses instead of two.

Trifecta Box: Same concept as the exacta box, except with the first three finishers: A trifecta wager where you don’t need your horses to finish in exact order to win. There’s no limit to the number of horses you can place in a trifecta box.

Superfecta: A bet in which you pick four horses to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

The must-have app for bettors

The best betting scoreboard

Free picks from proven pros

Live win probabilities for your bets

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