Known as one of the exotic types of bets, trifecta bets are the second most popular types of bets, second only to exacta bets for many reasons. Punters generally have greater likelihood for winning than in straight wagers, which explains the popularity of trifecta bets. It must be emphasized that these bets are also less profitable. Bettors only place trifecta bets if and when they are very confident about the outcome of the race.
Basics of the Bet
Basically, a trifecta bet means wagering on the top three finishers of the race. In horseracing parlance, this means identifying the horses that will finish first (win), second (place), and third (show) – truly, one of the most basic terms that punters will know during their introduction to horseracing especially as these terms are indicated on the betting ticket.
Keep in mind that a trifecta bet requires accuracy in the sense that the punter has to accurately guess the exact order in which the three selected horses will finish. If and when the horses finish in the exact order of the wager, the punter gets the payout. Otherwise, the punter loses the bet, such as when the horse wagered to finish first finishes in second or third place.
Such accuracy in guessing the exact order is challenging to say the least. But the benefit of a trifecta win is that the payouts can be substantial, thus its popularity among veteran punters. For example, in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, the trifecta paid $133,000 for a $2 bet (Giacomo, Closing Argument, and Afleet Alex). Just remember that the payouts will still depend on the number of people who have placed their bets on the same combination of horses.
Types of Trifecta
As with all types of bets, the trifecta bet comes in several variations, namely:
• Straight trifecta
This involves picking out the first, second and third place finishers in a specific race with the horses finishing in exactly that order. For example, you can bet on a 3-5-8 trifecta for $2, the minimum bet. Horse #3 should finish first, Horse #5 second, and Horse #8 third. Any other final outcome of the race means that you lost the bet.
• Trifecta box
This involves covering all of the possible combinations of your three or more racehorses. Thus, a $2 trifecta box ticket with the 3-5-8 combo will cost $12 since there are 6 combos in the mix (i.e., 3-5-8; 3-8-5; 5-3-8; 5-8-3; 8-3-5; 8-5-3). Adding another horse to the trifecta box, say, 3-5-8-1 means paying $48 for the betting ticket since there will be 24 combinations (i.e., $2 multiplied by 24 combos).
• Trifecta wheel
This is similar to the exacta wheel since the punter commonly uses one horse along with several others. As an example, you may believe that Horse #9 will finish first while Horses #3 and #5 will finish second. Your trifecta wheel can then look like this: 9/3, 5/3, 5 such that you will win the bet when #9 finishes first and #3 and #5 finishes second and third. You will pay $4 for the bet since there are only two outcomes, either 9-3-5 or 9-5-3, so there’s no room for error.
Again, only the most confident handicapper can dive into trifecta bets with a good assurance of winning the bet. Such accuracy demands supreme confidence on one’s ability to read the race.
Despite the risks of loss, however, trifecta bets are still popular because of the substantial payouts. Just remember that the winning ticket’s payout will be difficult to predict because of the various factors involved including the number of bets placed and the number of bettors who picked the same horses from the line-up.