Beginner’s Bet of the Week: The Exacta

Fans at Belmont Park celebrate a winner. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

This week marks the latest installment of a new series on America’s Best Racing, the Beginner’s Bet of the Week, sponsored by NYRA Bets. Each week, this blog will explore a new type of bet by explaining exactly what it is, how best to use that bet, and by putting the wager into practice in a race.

Belmont Fall’s seventh week of horse racing has arrived just a week ahead of the Del Mar Breeders’ Cup. The 2021 Breeders’ Cup World Championships is already just a week away, and NYRA Bets is getting you in the action. Simply apply promo code ABR25 for a $25 Free Play AND a $200 first-deposit match! You just can’t beat that. And don’t forget to join this week’s Oct. 30 Belmont Saturday Contest. $300 Buy-In. Big payouts. Get in before registrations close Friday. As always, be sure to tune into “America’s Day at the Races” running on FS2 every afternoon now through Sunday where the team will provide live coverage of Belmont Park and Churchill Downs all fall!

We’ve spent the past few weeks in this series discussing “straight” wagers. Now, we’ll start branching out into “exotic” betting, starting with NYRA’s most popular bet: the exacta.

The objective of the exacta is to pick the top two finishers in a race. The minimum wager on the exacta is $1. As noted above, exactas are extremely popular with bettors. On Saturday, Oct. 23, more than $2.2 million was wagered on the 10 exactas offered that day, representing 22.3% of wagering activity.

Exactas are tougher to hit than win, place, or show bets. It’s more difficult to pick the top two finishers in a race, as opposed to simply the top horse. However, with greater risk comes greater reward. On Oct. 23, the average $1 payoff on the exacta was $21.88, with a median return of $16.75.

Exactas can be played a multitude of ways. The simplest way is to play it “straight,” as in, one horse in first and one horse in second. For example, if you play a 1-2 straight exacta, that means that the #1 has to finish in first, and the #2 has to finish in second.

You can also “box” your numbers, albeit for a higher cost. If you play a 1-2 exacta box, that means the #1 and #2 can finish first or second in any order. A $1 exacta box has a total cost of $2. You can box multiple horses as well; a three-horse exacta box costs $6; a four-horse box $24.

Multiple horses can be used in different spots in an exacta. This is what’s known as a “part wheel”. Let’s say, for example, that you really like the #1 horse, and think the #2, #3, and #4 all have a good chance to finish second. You can play an exacta with the #1 in first, and the #2, #3, and #4 all in second. That play would cost a total of $3 (1 X 3).

Saturday’s Belmont Park Exacta Play

Race 5 on New York Showcase day is the Hudson Handicap, for 3-year-olds and older at 6 ½ furlongs on the dirt. There’s a few prominent names in the nine-horse field, including Grade 1-placed Ny Traffic. My top pick is drawn one spot to his inside, #7 Our Last Buck. He won the Say Florida Sandy Stakes against New York-breds in January then went to the sidelines until late July. In his comeback race, he finished third in the John Morrissey Handicap at Saratoga then was a very game second against open allowance-optional claiming horses last out. He has great tactical speed, and trainer Michelle Nevin has been very sharp lately, winning at a 24% clip.

I’ll play him in an exacta, on top of two other horses. #4 Amundson has run two of his best races on a wet track, and the surface on Saturday is very likely to be sloppy. #5 Jemography closed to win the George Barker Stakes at Finger Lakes last out, and will most likely sit a great trip right off the pace. To win this exacta bet, the #7 has to win and #4 or #5 must come in second. On a $1 base wager, this bet would cost $2.

To place this bet with a teller, say “Belmont Park, Race 5, $1 exacta, #7 with #4 and #5”. If you’re playing on an ADW, be sure to check off the #7 box in the first column, and the #4 and #5 box in the second column.

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