Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing — How to Bet a Trifecta

If you want to take your horse racing betting to the next level and try landing some big payouts, the trifecta is the go-to wager. This bet involves predicting the top three finishers correctly in a given race — in the exact order.

You can imagine how tricky it would be to get such a wager right. However, as it usually goes in sports betting, the more difficult it is to predict a certain outcome, the bigger the potential profit. In other words, you can snatch a huge payoff even with a small trifecta wager, and that’s what makes it popular among recreational bettors, in particular.

This mini-guide will get you caught up with the basics of trifecta betting in horse racing. We’ll give examples of different variations of trifecta wagers and show you how they work in practice.

Trifecta Bet Explained

A trifecta bet is a wager that requires bettors to correctly predict the top three horses in a given race, in exact order. If your picks finish the race in that precise order, you win — big time.

The minimum stake for a trifecta bet varies between different sportsbooks, but it’s mostly in the $0.50-2 range. This type of wager is available for pretty much every horse race around the world.

Trifecta is known throughout the globe by different names. US and Australian bettors call it trifecta; in the UK, it’s known as tricast; in Canada, it’s called triactor, while in France, it goes by the name tierce.

Here’s how you would place a trifecta bet with an online sportsbook:

  1. Select a race you want to bet on and click on the trifecta tab.
  2. Select horse A (predicted winner) in column selection 1.
  3. Select horse B (predicted second-place finisher) in column selection 2.
  4. Select horse C (predict third-place finisher) in column selection 3.
  5. Hit the place bets button, if required. If not, just input the amount of money you want to stake.
  6. Confirm your bet.

Different Types of Trifecta Bets

There are four different variations of a trifecta bet, with each having its own characteristics. You should get familiar with each alternative before getting in on the action.

Straight Trifecta

This is the simplest subtype of trifecta wager, one that implies that you pick exactly three horses along with the specific order you assume they will finish in. If your selections come first, second, and third, in that particular order, you win a share of the cash in the tote trifecta pool. Here’s an example.

You pick horse #7 to win the race, horse #3 to finish the race as the runner-up, and horse #1 to come third. The horses must finish 7-3-1, in that particular order, for you to win the wager.

Trifecta Box

Trifecta box is also called combination tricast, and with this bet, you pick three horses to finish in the top three positions, but they can finish in any order. A boxed trifecta is obviously easier to predict, but there’s a flip side to it — it’s pricier than a straight trifecta because it comprises multiple combinations, and you have to pay for each one.

You can box more than three horses to increase your winning chances, but the more combinations you select, the more expensive your trifecta bet will be. For instance, if you box four horses, there are 24 possible combinations for them to finish the race in the top three positions, and the cost to cover them would be $48 for a $2 trifecta. With six selections, there are 120 combinations, and you’d have to pay at least $240 for the wager.

Trifecta Key Box

Trifecta key box is a great option when you’re sure about the placement of one of your picks, but you’re on the fence about the others. So, you can focus on your ‘key’ selection to finish alongside your other ‘non-key’ picks. For example, you can choose horse #5 to win the race, and then select several horses to fill in the second and third place spots. The trifecta key box is cheaper than the regular trifecta box due to the reduced number of possible combinations.

Trifecta Wheel

Trifecta wheel is centred around picking one horse to finish in a specific position and cover all possible combinations for the remaining two spots by selecting the rest of the field. So essentially, you’re relying on your chosen horse to win the race, and that the remaining horses from your wheel would finish in the second and third position, respectively. If you place a full wheel trifecta, you get paid as long as your winner wins.

Trifecta Payouts

Trifecta payouts are calculated based on a pari-mutuel system where all winning tickets get a share of the total cash collected in the tote trifecta pool. It’s hard to determine the exact payout of a given trifecta wager, but the average sum hovers around the $5,000-30,000 range. The more trifecta tickets are sold, and the fewer people predict the winning combination accurately, the bigger your payout will be. Of course, a small cut goes to the operator, who takes in the wagers.


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