Watching horses race is a magical albeit noisy experience: You hear the thumping and thundering of hooves, riders shouting and the crack of whips, the crowd cheering as their favorite runner surpasses all competition, and the anguished cries of supporters seeing their steed fall way behind the rest of the pack.

The world of horse racing is immensely exciting, but it has its own rules, etiquette, and even its own language. The terminology and types of horse bets can be confusing for an inexperienced bettor. Luckily, you don’t have to walk in the dark – we’ve got you covered with this glossary of succinctly explained horse betting terms and types of bets.

Types of Straight Horse Racing Bets

The three simplest bets in horse racing are:

  • Win: This is a bet on a horse to win, as the name implies.
  • Place: A bet placed on a horse to finish in first or second place.
  • Show: A bet placed on a horse to finish first, second, or third.

These are the most basic horse betting terms essential for understanding horse betting. As you can see, they’re rather straightforward and resemble the terms used in regular sports betting.

However, you should know there are many more options available when betting on horses, and you might want to try your hand at them once you master the basics. The more complex racing bets are referred to as exotic bets. There are about a dozen types of these bets, and here we’ll explain them one by one. Let’s get started.

Types of Exotic Horse Racing Bets

Because of their increased complexity, exotic wagers are more difficult to win than straights.

  • Exacta: This is a bet where you pick the first- and second-place finishers in a race.
  • Trifecta: Here, you pick the exact first-, second-, and third-place finishers.
  • Superfecta: A bet type picking the first-, second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers.
  • Daily double: A bet picking the winners of two races, usually consecutive ones and usually the first two or the last two on the card.
  • Pick 3: A bet picking the winning horses in three consecutive races.
  • Pick 4: A bet picking the winners in four consecutive races.
  • Pick 5: A bet picking the winners of five consecutive races.
  • Pick 6: A bet picking the winners of six consecutive races.
  • Each way: Some types of bets in horse racing are simply a combination of two basic bets, and each way is one such bet. It combines the place and win bets. Your success depends on the outcome of the race. If your selection wins, you get the dividend for both the win and place bets. If your selection finishes second or third, then you collect the dividend for the place wager alone.
  • Duet: Here, you need to accurately select two of the three finishing runners in places; in any given order.
  • First 4: With a first 4 bet, you select the runners that’ll end the race first, second, third, and fourth in the exact finishing order.

Horizontal and Vertical Exotic Bets

To have exotic horse race betting explained fully, we need to mention that these bets can be additionally classified as horizontal or vertical.

  • Horizontal exotic bets: To win a horizontal wager, you must choose the winner of different races before the first in the list of races begins. Examples of horizontal exotic bets are doubles, pick 3s, pick 4s, pick 5s, and pick 6s.
  • Vertical exotic bets: These, on the other hand, are made when you pick the finishing order of a race accurately. Examples include straight exactas, straight trifectas, and straight superfectas.

Types of Quinella Horse Bets

The quinella bet is perhaps one of the most interesting and popular bets in the horse racing scene. This is probably due to the simplicity of the selection. A quinella bet is won when you correctly select the two horses that’ll finish first and second in any order in a particular race.

There are three types of these bets:

  • Straight: This is a single bet on two horses to finish first and second.
  • Quinella box: A bet where the bettor chooses more than two runners, paying for more possible combinations.
  • Quinella wheel: Among the types of bets in horse racing, you’ll also find the quinella wheel. The quinella wheel isn’t much different from the quinella box in the sense that the wagers are made with the bettor choosing one horse in all the bets, along with other horses to make up the combination. It’s used to cover all possibilities in a situation when a bettor is only certain the horse they’ve picked will finish either first or second, but isn’t sure which other horse will follow suit.

Multirace Types of Horse Racing Bets Explained

  • Doubles: Here, you pick the runners that will win two nominated races at the same race meeting.
  • BIG 6: Not to be confused with Big Hero 6, the BIG 6 bet is a selection where the bettor picks six winners from six nominated races. The bettor would need to nominate at least one selection in all six legs. You can make more than one selection, but each additional selection doubles the cost of the bet.
  • Quaddie: A quaddie is a bet selection where the bettor picks four winners from four races. You’d need to nominate at least one selection in all four legs.
  • Parlay formula: Another one of the different types of bets made in horse races is the parlay formula. This is a bet type in which all winnings are parlayed from one race into other races. When you parlay, this means you’ve created one bet that links together two or more individual bets. This single bet depends on the outcomes of all individual bets.

A parlay formula can be played on two to six races. You can place it on a combination of win, place, or quinella bets. You can also expand the options available to you by parlaying bets over two to six races using a formula number. With a formula number, you don’t have to be successful in each leg to win.

Horse Racing Odds Explained

What about bettings odds in horse racing? Are they any different from the odds in other sports betting? Let’s take a look.

Suppose you see a 7-2 on a horse. This expresses the amount of profit to the amount invested. These odds mean that for every $2 you stake, there is a $7 profit. The first number indicates potential winnings, and the second number indicates the cost of the bet.

Note that horse racing odds can come in two formats. These two types of horse betting odds are fractional and decimal.

Fractional odds are the more traditional format. You’d usually see them written as something like 3/1 or hear them pronounced as “three to one.” For further emphasis, what this would mean is that for every $1 bet, your returns would be $3, along with your original stake, just like in our example above.

Decimal odds are a fairly new format, more frequent with European bookers. Unlike the fractional odds, your stake has already been factored in, appearing in the format of “3.25.” Hence, to calculate your potential winnings, all you need to do is multiply your stake by this number.


What are the types of horse bets?

There are two basic types of bets you can place. They are classified into straight (win, place, show) and exotic (horizontal or vertical).

What is the best type of bet in horse racing?

The best type of bet in horse racing would perhaps be an each-way single bet. This is because it’s the safest, as it doesn’t require picking multiple horses for you to win a wager. You are simply placing two bets on the same horse. Half of your stake is put on the horse to win, and the other half is for it to place. Alternatively, you could also consider an outright win bet.

What is it called when you bet on 4 horses?

This is one of the major types of horse bets known as a superfecta.

What is a 5-horse bet called?

This type of bet is called a pentafecta or Hi-5. It requires you to predict the first five finishers in a race and their exact order.