Trifecta Wagering

To place a Trifecta bet you must choose three horses that you believe will finish first, second and third. To win the bet, those three horses must finish in that order.

A common way to play a Trifecta is to box three horses. A $1 trifecta box using #1,#2, and #3 would cost $6. The three horses you selected must finish in the top three spots for you to win. A four-horse $1 trifecta box would cost $24.

Often a better way to play a trifecta is called a Trifecta key. In this wager you use one or more “key” horses. For instance if you liked the #1 to win, you could play a $1 Trifecta key of #1 over #2,#3,#4,#5 over #2,#3,#4,#5. This would be a $12 ticket. You need the #1 to win the race and any of your other four contenders to finish second and third.

A Trifecta can be tough to hit because often it seems just about any runner in a race can plod home and land third. When playing a Trifecta it’s best if you can find one or two “key” horses and use those on top, then spreading your ticket out for the second and third spot.

Finding a longshot to land in your Trifecta could be the difference from making a small profit and making a big score.

Just boxing contenders can get pricey:
$1 Trifecta box using 3 horses = $6
$1 Trifecta box using 4 horses = $24
$1 Trifecta box using 5 horses = $60
$1 Trifecta box using 6 horses = $120

Using a boxing method also means you are weighing all of the contenders with an equal chance of winning. It’s better to try to find one or two key horses to use on top that you think have a great chance of winning the race.

Here are a few ways to get good coverage with modest invests:
#1,#2 with #1,#2,#3 with #1,#2,#3,#4,#5,#6 = $16
#1,#2 with #1,#2,#3,#4 with #1,#2,#3,#4,$5,#6 = $24
#1,#2,#3 with #1,#2,#3,#4 with #1,#2,#3,#4,#5,#6 = $36

Since it’s generally easier to pick a winner than pick a horse that is going to finish third, it’s a good idea to spread out the options for the third spot. Ideally when playing Trifecta keys you have a solid opinion on one or two runners in the race, and spread enough in the third position in hopes of landing a horse that could be a generous price and increase the payoff.

In general, Trifectas don’t offer much value in fields with less than seven runners. Trifectas with large fields usually generate the largest payoffs.