While the quinella remains a favourite bet with Aussie punters, its close relative, the exacta, is making ground and becoming more popular every year.

Exacta betting was a late starter on the TABs. For one reason or another, or just sheer obstinacy, the bet wasn’t introduced until the last few years. And, as we know, punters are usually slow to adopt a new form of betting.

The exacta offers the chance for punters to strike some significant returns.

The technicalities of the bet are simple to understand. With the quinella, a box of three runners will cost $3, but to box the same number of runners in the exacta costs $6. A box of four costs $12, a box of five costs $20 and boxing six will cost $30.

You can refer to the charts on page 17 for the full details. We also have the cost of “bankering” or “wheeling” one horse with others in a race.

This is very easy because if you take a banker and link it with six others to run second then that is a simple 6-unit bet and at $1 each unit the cost is $6.

Some professionals say the exacta can be a sound bet if you strongly fancy a horse to win and this horse is at a short price.

If you can link it with some value runners for second the return can be excellent.

Let’s say you are confident an even money chance can win and you are confident you can find the runner-up in three picks. This means a $3 bet. Let’s say the evens chance wins and you get a 7/1 chance in second. The exacta is likely to pay more than $10. So your $3 bet has returned a bigger dividend than it would for the win at evens.

US expert Don Bielak has some interesting views on the exacta when used in conjunction with expected overlays. Here’s what he says:

“Betting on overlays is one of the oldest and most effective weapons in the battle for racetrack profits.

“An overlay occurs when a horse's odds are higher than its actual chances of winning. For example, if a horse has a one in three chance of winning (represented by 2/1 odds), and his actual odds are 5/2 or more, it would be an overlay. The logic of betting on overlays should be obvious; anytime you get more for something than it is worth, you are sure to profit.

“Although overlays can occur in any betting pool, the standard method of overlay betting involves win wagering.

“A great many racing fans prefer exacta wagering to any other type. Luckily, I have a method that combines overlays with exacta betting. In fact, some of the most generous exactas I have had have been picked by this method.

“Here’s how it works:

  1. Handicap the race and identify the four most likely horses to win, regardless of their probable odds. Ignore all others.
  2. Watch the odds board and, as close to post time as possible, determine which horse of the four has the highest odds.
  3. Use the horse with the highest odds as the key horse. Make exacta boxes with each of the remaining three horses (that’s three boxes). If more than one of the horses is tied for highest odds, banker the horse that you have rated most likely to win.

“How well does this method work? In the past I have been able to tab many exactas ranging from just under $1,000 on down, with many exactas in the $50 to $100 range.

“A few words of caution. You must remember that the success of this method hinges on your skill as a handicapper.

“I can’t stress enough the need to identify the four horses most likely to win REGARDLESS of the probable odds. Don’t fall into the trap of picking your contenders based on price; the odds will take care of themselves. Also, you must realise that this is basically a longshot method. Accordingly, you cannot expect to hit three or four big exactas every day. However, the prices should make any wait worthwhile. It aims for the big ones.”

Barry Meadow, the US pro whose advice is snapped up by bettors worldwide, has some cautionary words, and helpful hints, about exacta betting. In his book Money Secrets At The Racetrack, he writes:

“Many fans play the exacta on hope. They bet birthdays, phone numbers, or sequences such as 1-2 or 7-11; they think the exacta is a lottery. Millions of these free dollars, not available to nearly the same extent in the win pool, help increase potential profits.”

Meadow says there is always one reason only for making a bet. Does it offer VALUE?

“This is just as true for exactas as it is for win and place,” he writes. “The questions then are these: (1) What is the chance of a combination finishing 1st and 2nd? (2) What is the dividend? (3) Is that return an overlay?

“You must make two calculations. First, what is the chance a certain horse will win? Second, assuming the first horse wins, what is the chance that the other horse will run second?”

I know many readers like to back quinellas and exactas using simple selection ideas. I’ll list a few for you that might be worth consideration. They are mainly aimed at reacreational punters who like to bet in every race.


  1. There are two selections for the exacta. The pre-post favourite and TAB number 1. So we have the combinations of 1-2 and 2-1 at $1 each. If they turn out to be the same horse, then take TAB number 2. (You can if you wish use your own two selections each time).
  2. The staking is on a progression scale (showing the units to be bet on each combination) as follows:

    PROGRESSION: 1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-5-5-6-7.
  3. Do not reduce the bet when a winning return is struck. Go right through the series to the end.
  4. Example: Let’s say the first four bets lose. That means you are losing 8 units (four bets at $2 each). You now double the stake, so $2 is bet on each combination. If bet number five wins and pays, say, $11 your return is $22. You have to date bet a total of $12 and you are showing a profit of $10. You now continue on through the series.

This article gives you a “learner’s permit” introduction to the exacta. In future issues of PPM, we’ll have lots more to say about this form of betting. It’s the next best thing to a trifecta and certainly a lot cheaper to play.

By Jon Hudson