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.
Trifecta Box Bet
A common way to play a Trifecta is to box three horses. A $1 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 box would cost $24.
Often a better way to play 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.
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A Trifecta can be tough to hit because often it seems just about any runner in a race can plod home and land third. It is usually 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.
Trifecta Box Cost
Finding a longshot to land in your Trifecta could be the difference from making a small profit and making a big score. If you are looking to bet a trifecta, check out our 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Guide.
Just boxing contenders can get pricey:
$1 box using 3 horses = $6
$1 box using 4 horses = $24
$1 box using 5 horses = $60
$1 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.
If you are looking for a really good Trifecta Calculator, head on over to America’s Best Racing and try it for yourself.
The Best Trifecta Strategy
Here are a few ways to get good coverage with modest investments:
#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
Many tracks now have .50 cent trifectas!
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. Horse races with large fields usually generate the largest payoffs.
Horse Racing Betting Explained