Updated: Sunday, March 2, 2014 2:16 PM PST

Horse Racing Wagers - Betting The Trifecta

The object of the Trifecta is to pick the correct 1-2-3 order of finish. This is actually not as difficult as it may seem

There are a number of approaches to betting (and hitting) the Trifecta. Some approaches involve a few horses and combinations, while other structures require a player to go deeper into the bet. Whatever your style of play, there is a Trifecta bet for you.

Make sure that you only play the Trifecta when it makes sense to do so. If you think a favorite has a better than 50 percent chance to finish out the money, by all means consider a Trifecta. If you think that there is a solid favorite and like some longshots to place and show, by all means play a Trifecta. If, on the other hand, you think two short prices horses will finish in the money, pass the Trifecta.

The Trifecta Part Wheel

The Trifecta Part Wheel is a popular betting strategy that uses a Key Horse in the win position with three, four, or five horses in both the place and show positions.

  • Place a one unit win unit on the Key Horse.
  • Purchase a part wheel with the Key Horse with up to five place and show contenders. It will cost $6 to part wheel the Key Horse over three horses, $12 to partial wheel the KH over four horses, and $20 to wheel the Key Horse to five horses, assuming $1 wagers. Example: A/B-C-D-E/B-C-D-E = $20

The Trifecta Win and Place Wheel

In this Trifecta bet, you are betting that your Key Horse will finish first or second in the race. This is a useful betting structure when you like a longshot, but feel that a legitimate favorite has a good chance of winning the race. To place the bet, simply make two Trifecta Part Wheel bets, using the Key Horse in the win spot on one ticket and in the place position on the other ticket. Use up to four other contenders to complete the wager.

  • Place a one unit win wager on the Key Horse.
  • Buy a part wheel ticket using the Key Horse in the win position with up to four other contenders. Ex: A/B-C-D-E/B-C-D-E = $12
  • Buy a part wheel ticket using the Key Horse in the place position with up to four other contenders. Ex: B-C-D-E/A/B-C-D-E = $12

The Win Place with Full Wheel

The Win Place with Full Wheel is an extremely aggressive bet structure. Bettors who use this Trifecta wagering strategy are taking a strong position in backing their contenders. To play this type of Trifecta bet, you simply use a Key Horse in the win spot, with a second Key Horse in the place position, and wheel the full field - ALL - in the show position.

  • Place a one unit win wager on the Key Horse.
  • The Trifecta structure is A/B/C-D-E-F-G-H-I

Full Wheel + Place and Show

This unique approach to betting the Trifecta involves using a Key Horse in the win position and using a secondary contender in the place and show slots.

  • Bet one unit on the Key Horse to win.
  • Wheel the Key Horse to the 2nd contender to the field. A/B/ALL
  • Wheel the Key Horse to the field to the 2nd contender. A/ALL/B

The Trifecta Box

The Trifecta Box is a very basic Trifecta betting strategy. There is no Key Horse in a Trifecta Box. This structure is useful when you have a few longshots that you like in a race, but none of them are worth using as a Key Horse. The betting structure for a Trifecta Box is as easy as it gets.

$1 Trifecta Boxes with three, four or five horses.

  • A three horse box at $1 betting units involves 6 combinations.
  • A four horse box at $1 betting units involves 24 combinations.
  • A five horse box at $1 betting units involves 60 combinations.

The Trifecta Fan

The Trifecta Fan is so named because the bet structure fans out from the pin position to the show position. The first version of this bet structure involves using two Key Horses in the win spot, with two, three, four or more other horses in the place position with two, three, four or more horses in the show position. The Trifecta Fan gives a horseplayer a lot of coverage at a reasonable cost. The Fan should be used with Exacta bets in races with lots of value.

Two Key Horses + 3 +5 - A Fan structure with two Key Horses in the win position, plus three horses added in both the place and show positions.

  • Play Exacta boxes with the two Key Horses and additional Exaxtas with the Key Horses and other place contenders. Ex: A/B box, A-B/C-D.
  • The Trifecta structure is A-B/A-B-C-D-E/A-B-C-D-E, which costs $24 for $1 betting units.

Two Key Horses + 4 + 6 - a Fan structure with two Key Horses in the win position, plus two horses added in the place position, and two more added in the show position.

  • Play Exacta boxes with the two Key Horses and additional Exactas with the Key Horses the other place contenders. Ex: A/B box, A-B/C-D.
  • The Trifecta structure is A-B/A-B-C-D/A-B-C-D-E-F, which costs $24 for $1 betting units.

The Trifecta Key Horse Box

Trifecta's are not that difficult to hit if you employ the right betting strategy. There are several good strategies for attacking the Trifecta. Our favorite is the Trifecta Key Horse Box. The Key Horse Box is a cross between a Trifecta Part Wheel and a Trifecta Box. The big difference is that instead of keying a horse in the win spot only, you will key the horse in the win, place, and show positions. It differs from a Trifecta Box in that you are not boxing the Key Horse with all other contenders in all combinations.

The Trifecta Key Horse Box is a simple method for maximizing betting value with your key horse. It can save you a ton of money compared to traditional Trifecta boxing methods.

Normal Trifecta boxing consists of taking a set amount of horses; 3, 4, and 5 horse boxes are the most common. The cost for these boxes is $6, $24, and $60 respectively. A 6 horse box can be had for $120.

A Trifecta Key Horse Box involves boxing your key horse with all of your other contenders. This allows you to use more contenders in the box, for less money. We will use a 5 horse key box as an example of this method. As we stated before, a standard Trifecta box costs $60 and yields the following combinations:

1-2-31-2-41-2-51-3-41-3-5
1-4-52-3-42-3-52-4-53-4-5

With a Key Horse Box, we must first designate a Key Horse. We will use the 1. Now our combinations become:

1-2-31-2-41-2-5
1-3-41-3-51-4-5

The total cost of this box is just $36. The only catch is that the Key Horse must hit the board (finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd). If you use a sound contender selection system this should not be a problem.

The Trifecta Key Horse Box works great in races where you think the favorite is vulnerable and where the contenders are going off at generous prices. Remember, we are always looking for value and price! This is a Trifecta strategy that should be used to try for big scores, but also has built in "saver" features. These features include being able to choose enough contenders to have a legitimate chance to cash and the fact that you need your key horse to finish in the win, place, or show spots.

The cost to box the key horse (KH) with other contenders is as follows:

KH + 3 contenders = $18
KH + 4 contenders = $36
KH + 5 contenders = $60
KH + 6 contenders = $90
KH + 7 contenders = $126