Betting the exotics is something 99 out of 100 punters do every raceday. Quinellas, trifectas and, in some areas, exactas are increasingly popular. They are just as popular in other countries.

American professional David L. Christopher tackles the problem of exactas and quinellas in his best-seller Winning It The Track (Liberty Publishing, Florida, USA). He talks mainly about exactas - as they are the most widely used form of exotic bets in America - but he says his ideas can be equally applied to quinellas.

But keep exactas (correctly forecasting the first two placegetters in the right order) in mind when reading David's words of wisdom: "The recommended procedure for betting is as follows: (1) List the four horses of your choice in the precise order they are expected to finish; (2) Box the top two choices with your third choice; (3) if necessary, box your top two choices with your fourth choice; (4) Box your top two choices alone; (5) When your first choice is a strong selection and appears to be the likely winner, play the exacta straight with your second choice.

"The betting scheme outlined may be referred to as a three-horse multiple box. No more than three horses are boxed at any one time and each ticket always contains the top two horses.

"As an example, suppose the exact order for your first four selections are 2-6-1-7 in a race with $2 exacta wagering. The bets would be as follows, with a total $30 investment required:

BOX 1-2-6$12
BOX 2-6-7$12
BOX 2-6$4

"The decision to include the fourth horse rather than betting only three rests with your confidence in the first three choices and/or the strength of the third versus the fourth choice."

American professional  Alan Harker, author of The Trifecta Trap (Williams Publishing, USA), has made a 10-year study of this form of betting. He says punters have to very carefully choose the races on which they invest.

His advice can be summed up as taking a highly cautionary approach to trifecta betting. Well, it's paid off for him with countless big hits on the American tracks.

In The Trifecta Trap, Harker explains: "You have to learn not to bet in those races where you are unable to cull the field back to four good chances. You also have to find the races where you can go outside the four, and choose another six to fill the all-important third slot.

"The play that has consistently made me money, on carefully selected races, is a combination of 4 x 4 x 10, which for the normal $2 bet costs $192. It is a pretty big bet but the returns can be enormous. I have struck any number of dividends in the high 800 and 900s, and some into the thousands."

Harker, of course, has used the minimum $2 bet which applies in America. The same 4 x 4 x 10 linkup in Australia would only cost $48 for a 50 cent unit wager, or $96 for $1 units.

You can prune the bet back further by going for a 3 x 4 x 10, which costs, for 50 cent units, $36. This type of combination can land you a lot of collects provided your top selections are soundly chosen.

More advice on the exotics comes from author Charles E Romanelli, whose book How To Make Money In One Day At The Track (Simon & Schuster, USA) is gaining a big reputation. He has this to say: "For the occasional bettor ... exactas are the biggest money burners. They seem so easy, bet three or four horses; surely two of them will place, and many of the pay-offs are so good.

"The temptation to bet a few combinations can hardly be resisted, and so the money goes."

Romanelli, a New York schoolteacher, says the first lesson to be learned with exactas is that if you box three good selections in every race, then half the time you may end up with a small profit and half the time you will show losses, sometimes disastrous ones.

On quinellas, he says: "hi those races where you are playing a standout favourite over some longshots, never bet quinellas.

"Once in a while the longshot will out finish you and you will collect nothing. However, if your judgement is right, more often than not you'll fare better by taking a chance with a 2 unit one-way exacta than with a 2 unit quinella.

"Quinellas provide a cheap way of betting some money on a race you should skip because there are too many contenders. If you can't pass up a race where four or five horses have a good shot to win, and three of them are longshots, you can make a four horse quinella box."

Some of Romanelli's advice on exactas is as follows:

  1. A single horse that is a standout favourite: Play the fav on the top of two or three horses, including one longshot.
  2. A single horse that is 6/1 or higher with a bettable favourite in the race: Play your horse underneath the favourite for 2 units and play your horse over the fav for 1 unit. Bet 6 units on your horse to win.
  3. Three evenly  matched contenders that do not include the favourite: Bet any combination that will pay $30 or more; in most cases this will mean boxing all three.

Romanelli's book, incidentally, is full of sage advice. He stresses the importance of money management in the following words: "The difference between a profit and a loss, once the elements of handicapping are mastered, lies in HOW you bet your money - how much you bet on a particular horse . . . You must understand the mathematics of betting."

This, of course, is something we have laboured long over in 10 years of producing this magazine, but Romanelli's book finds some fresh and exciting things to say.

Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

By Richard Hartley Jnr