Exotic bets are a great way to supplement your straight Win, Place, and Show (WPS) bets. However, if you are limiting your bets to only the exotics, you face a tougher challenge than you do with WPS wagers. You will not win as often with exotics, therefore increasing your risk of ruin. If you are a casual bettor with a limited bankroll, the exotic bets should not be your only wagers as you will more than likely go broke. The casual bettor should deal mostly with WPS bets, using the exotics sparingly when they find an advantage that they might capitalize on.
For simplicity, many people use boxes when making exacta, trifecta, or superfecta wagers. By boxing your bet, you are essentially giving each horse that you select equal weight at each finishing position. If you suspect that each horse you pick is equal in talent, and they are relatively equal on the tote board, this is a sound strategy. An example of this would be a three horse exacta box, with each horse going off at 4-1 odds. A three horse exacta box would be the correct play here, but since this is so rarely the case, especially with the more difficult exotics, a different approach is necessary. You do not want to weight each horse the same if they are not strikingly similar in ability and pari-mutuel odds. This will only make you root for the most unlikely combination’s and end up costing you more along the way.
The easiest way to correct your exotic wagering is to select one horse that you think is far superior to the field. By placing this horse in a position as the lone number one horse, you are reducing a trifecta ticket’s cost dramatically. For example, assume there are four horses you want to put in a trifecta. Instead of a $1 trifecta box that will cost $24, you have a $9 ticket that looks like this: 1/2, 3, 4/2, 3, 4.
Suppose you can’t narrow down the field to one winner. If you want to use the same four horses, you can reduce the cost of your ticket by weighting the bets differently. If the two horses you like to win have different payoff odds, weight them so that the favorite costs more than the long shot. This might mean a $2 trifecta for the favorite to win and a $1 trifecta for the long shot on top. You would have two tickets that look something like this
• $2 Trifecta: 1/2, 3, 4/2, 3, 4 = $18
• $1 Trifecta: 1, 2/1, 3, 4/3, 4 = $12
You are paying $30 for the trifecta, but you have given yourself two tickets that payout more if won. Additionally, if your favorite (the #1 horse) wins, you have a good possibility of having two winning tickets. For a $6 increase, you can greatly increase your payout and your odds of winning.