Exacta Bet Explained

An exacta bet provides punters with the opportunity to earn a large payout from a relatively small stake when betting on a horse race. However, it can be tricky to compile a successful exacta, so many punters opt for a boxed exacta instead. This guide explains what an exacta bet is, what a boxed exacta constitutes, and how to place these popular bets.


What is an Exacta Bet?

An exacta bet requires you to pick the horse that will win a race and the horse that will finish second. You have to specify the exact order in which they will finish, hence the name.

An alternative bet is a quinella, which allows you to pick two horses, and they can finish first and second in any order. An exacta is trickier to predict, as you must state the precise order in which they will finish.

However, there are even tougher bets. For example, a trifecta requires you to predict the winner, the runner-up and the third-place horse, in that precise order. A first four bet involves naming the first four horses past the post in the correct order. They are difficult bets to land, so many punters find that an exacta is just right.


Exacta Bet Examples

Let’s say you decided to place an exacta bet on the 2021 Melbourne Cup. You studied the form of each horse and decided that Verry Elleegant would win the race. However, you wanted to generate a larger potential profit, so you had another look and decided that Incentivize would finish second.

You would therefore have been delighted to see Verry Elleegant cause an upset by beating Incentivize – the shortest-priced Cup favourite since Phar Lap – by three-and-a-half lengths to win the Melbourne Cup.

All the money that every punter bet on the exacta was divided up among those successful bettors that went for a Verry Elleegant-Incentivize exacta. It worked out that winning punters receive a dividend of $72.70 for every $1 they bet on the Victoria TAB (the Totaliser Agency Board, the agency that collects the pools of money wagered, takes its cut and then divides the remainder among winning punters). Therefore if you bet $10 on the exacta, you would have earned a $727 profit.

You never know exactly how much you will receive from a winning exacta, because it is dependent upon the amount wagered on the race and upon the number of additional punters that also guessed correctly. For instance, if you are the only punter that guessed correctly, you take home the entire pot, but if thousands of punters got the exacta correct, you would only gain a small fraction of it.

It therefore stands to reason that you will generally receive a smaller payout if you bet on two short-priced horses in the exacta and a larger payout if you bet on two roughies. That is not an exact rule, but you often find that many punters place an exacta bet on two of the most hyped runners, so if two unheralded runners finish first and second, you often see a large exacta dividend.

For example, at the 2020 Melbourne Cup, a relatively unfancied outsider called Twilight Payment won at odds of $23. He finished ahead of the highly-rated Tiger Moth, and the exacta paid $211.60.

In 2015, a $101 roughie called Prince of Penzance beat Max Dynamite to win the Melbourne Cup, and the exacta paid $2,050.70. The trifecta for that race paid $26,045 for any savvy punters that guessed correctly. By contrast, when Japanese raider Lys Gracieux – the heavy favourite – finished ahead of the talented Castelvecchio to win the 2019 Cox Plate, the exacta paid out $16, as Lys Gracieux-Castelvecchio was a far more common selection among punters on that race.


How to Bet an Exacta

Placing an exacta bet is simple if you head the racing section at TopSport.com.au. You can then follow these steps to place an exacta bet today:

  • Find a race you want to place an exacta bet on and click on it.
  • You will see a list of the runners, including details such as their recent form, the weight they are carrying, the jockey and the trainer.
  • At the top of the racecard, you will see a series of boxes: “Win/Place”, “Quinella”, “Exacta”, “Trifecta”, “First Four” and “Quadrella”. Click on the “Exacta” box.
  • The racecard will then change. To the right, you will see a column that reads “1st” and a column that reads “2nd”. Two boxes will also appear next to each horse running in the race.
  • In the column that reads “1st” click on the box next to the horse that you think will win the race. In the column that reads “2nd” click on the box next to the horse that you think will finish second. You have selected an exacta bet of those two horses.
  • At the bottom of the screen, a bar will appear. The first box will read “Unit Stake”. Type in the amount that you would like to bet on the exacta and then click “Add To Betslip”.
  • You will then see the exacta bet added to the betslip at the right of the page. It will confirm the race, the horses you have chosen and the stake you have decided to wager on the exacta. For example, it might read Mornington Race 1. st: 2. 2nd: 5. Stake $10. That would mean you are placing a $10 exacta bet on the horse wearing the number 2 on its saddlecloth to beat the number 5 horse in the first race of the day at Mornington. The potential return will be “TBD”, because it will be determined by the amount wagered on the exacta and the number of winning tickets.
  • If you are happy, click to confirm the exacta bet. If your bet wins, the exacta bet dividend will be revealed shortly after the race, and your winnings will be credited to your account balance.


Boxed Exacta

A boxed exacta allows you to group a number of horses together and then place a combination of exactas within that box. For example, you might select horse number 4, horse number 6 and horse number 8 in a particular race at Caulfield.

You could then combine them for a boxed exacta, which would encapsulate six different bets:

  1. Horse 4 to win and horse 6 to finish second.
  2. Horse 4 to win and horse 8 to finish second.
  3. Horse 6 to win and horse 4 to finish second.
  4. Horse 6 to win and horse 8 to finish second.
  5. Horse 8 to win and horse 4 to finish second.
  6. Horse 8 to win and horse 6 to finish second.

A $10 boxed exacta on three different horses would therefore cost you $60 in total, as you are essentially placing six different exacta bets at $10 apiece.

You can add as many selections as you like to your boxed exacta. The more you add, the higher your chance of landing a successful combination.

However, if you add too many, the cost of your boxed exacta could exceed the dividend you receive. For example, let’s say you add four selections and place a $10 boxed exacta on them, which requires a total stake of $120, because there are 12 combinations within four selections. If you land a winning exacta within that group, but the dividend is $10, you will be returned $100 and incur a slight loss overall.

You can add two selections to a boxed exacta, which is essentially two exactas: Horse A to beat Horse B, and Horse B to beat Horse A. That is the same as a quinella, but it is paid out from a different pot – the exacta pot as opposed to the quinella pot, so you will receive a different payout, although you will not know which one will be larger.


Exacta Bet FAQs

How are exacta bets calculated?

A successful exacta bet is paid out on a pari-mutuel basis. All the money wagered on the exacta on a particular race goes into a pot, which is then divided up among the punters with winning tickets. The size of your payout depends on the amount you paid into the pot when placing an exacta bet.

Can you bet an exacta on any other sports?

You can place an exacta bet on greyhound racing and harness racing along with thoroughbred racing. It is rare to find an exacta bet offered on other sports, but you may find it on a Formula 1 race, or perhaps on a long-term futures bet, such as the teams that will finish first and second in the AFL ladder.

Where can I place a horse racing exacta bet?

You can place a horse racing exacta bet at TopSport.com.au. Just visit the website, head into the racing section and find a race that you want to place an exacta on. Click on the “Exacta” option and mark the horse that you think will finish first and the horse you think will finish second, enter your unit stake and click “Add To Betslip” to place your exacta bet.

Looking to place an exacta bet on an upcoming race? Head on over to the TopSport horse racing betting page.