What is an exacta in horse racing?

An exacta is a wager that requires the bettor to correctly pick the top two finishers in order.
If you have a strong opinion that a horse will win a race, playing it in exactas can substantially inflate your payoff, particularly if the horse is one of the betting favorites.

There are several different strategies for betting exactas, but “boxing” is one of the most popular. That means betting two or more horses on a ticket and using them in both the first and second positions so that you will collect if they finish 1-2, no matter what order they come in. The more horses you add the more expensive your ticket becomes, however, so you don’t want to overdo it and box six horses.

Another common strategy is to use a horse as a “key” in exactas. Say you really like Champ To Be to win, but have no clue who might run second. You can build a ticket that uses Champ To Be in first and “wheel” the entire field in the second slot. That way, if Champ To Be rewards your faith by winning, you will collect no matter who finishes in the runner-up slot. And if it’s a long shot, you will be amply rewarded.

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