May 20 2013

Exotic Wagers: Intra-Race and Multi-Race

In two prior posts, I covered the topic of Win-Place-Show wagers.  While these relatively simple wagers, sometimes referred to as “straight” wagers, have been a main staple for horseplayers over the years, there are many other wagering options available.  These other wagers are frequently referred to as “Exotic” wagers, and can be divided into two main categories: Intra-Race and Multi-Race. Intra-Race wagers involve predicting the order of finish within a single race. Multi-Race wagers predominantly involve predicting the winner in multiple races in succession.

Intra-Race Wagers
Wager Description
Exacta Pick the two horses that finish first and second, in exact order.
Quinella Pick the two horses that finish first and second, but they don’t have to be in exact order.
Trifecta (Triple) Pick the three horses that finish first, second, and third, in exact order.
Superfecta Pick the four horses that finish first, second, third, and fourth, in exact order.
Super High Five Pick the five horses that finish first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, in exact order.

From the standpoint of total dollars wagered, Intra-Race wagers are generally the most popular among the betting public, exceeding even Win-Place-Show wagers. And with recent trends by racetracks to lower the minimum wagers on Trifectas and Superfectas, this will likely continue.

Multi-Race Wagers
Wager Description
Double Pick the winner of two consecutive races. Years ago, this was called the “Daily Double” because it was available only once daily, typically on the 1st and 2nd race. Today most racetracks offer “running” doubles on all successive races.
Pick-3 Pick the winner of three consecutive races. Most racetracks offer “running” Pick-3 wagers on all races where three successive races follow.
Pick-4, Pick-5, Pick-6 Pick the winner of four, five, or six consecutive races. Most racetracks restrict these wagers to a specific set of successive wagers. For example, a Pick-6 wager might be offered only on races 4-9.
Grand Slam Involves four consecutive races, where the first three races require picking a horse that must finish 1st,2nd, or 3rd. In the fourth and final race, you must pick the winner.

From the standpoint of total dollars wagered, Multi-Race wagers are generally the least popular among the betting public. This is due in part to the larger investment generally required for these type of wagers. However, once again, with the reduction of minimum amounts on Multi-Race wagers at many racetracks, the popularity of these wagers continues to increase.

Most seasoned horseplayers have a preference for one type of wager over another.  Personally, I lean toward Straight and Intra-Race wagers.  But, I have known many players who prefer Multi-Race wagers, and some who bet them almost exclusively.  I think the important thing is to match the type of wager to your personality and handicapping strengths.  The following list of considerations will help in making that choice.

  1. Are you a planner?  Multi-Race wagers require advance handicapping and planning out complex wagers.  This is not something that can be done last-minute with only minutes to post.
  2. Can you interpret the physical condition of horses? If you have the ability to “read” a horse’s energy level or judge their conformation for speed, endurance, or surface ability … then Straight or Intra-Race wagers are best for you.
  3. Do you have a knack for eliminating horses that have a slim chance of winning? This skill benefits the Multi-Race player, since the nature of these wagers involves selecting winners.  You are not concerned with who runs 3rd or 4th.
  4. Do you shy away from a certain type of race (e.g. Maidens)? If so, then Multi-Race wagers will be difficult, since you can’t control the inclusion or exclusion of these races in a sequence.  But, with Straight or Intra-Race wagers, you can simply skip your nemesis races in favor of more preferred races.

There are many strategies to use for all types of wagers.  And, we’ll be getting into them in future posts.  In the meantime, for exotic wagers, I feel that Steven Crist’s book Exotic Wagering is a terrific resource for exploring the Inter-Race and Multi-Race options.

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By Neal Benoit

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