What Does Trifecta Mean In Horse Racing and Sports Betting?

Nothing says “summer” better than a trip to the racetrack and several ice-cold drinks while basking in the sun and skimming through the dailyracing program. Unfortunately, only a small amount of the betting public actually knows how to dissect the program properly which gives them a bit of an edge when it comes to placing their wagers. Most amateurs or leisure bettors stick to the simple bets like win, place or show despite the potential of a massive payout when playing the exotic bets. The exotic bet I will teach you about today is the popular trifecta bet, also known as a “triactor” at some tracks.

How to Bet a Trifecta

The exact definition of a trifecta bet is “a bet in which the person betting forecasts the first three finishers in a specific race in the correct order”. This means that you will not only be picking the winner of the race, but the second and third place finishers as well. A trifecta bet is one of the harder bets to win at the races but the potential payout is sometimes worth the risk – especially when the race is comprised of several longshot horses and a favorite of 5/2 odds or better. The only downside to being an avid trifecta bettor is that not every race offers up trifecta betting. This usually happens when the field is comprised of five or less horses, in which case the track could stand to lose money should it allow trifecta wagering.

Cost of a Trifecta Bet

The cost of a trifecta bet differs from track to track with the minimum stake usually set at $.50. The most popular trifecta wager is the $1 wager due to the high cost of a complex trifecta ticket. For example, the simplest trifecta bet would use three horses -one for first, one for second and one for third – and it would cost you a grand total of $1 since there is only one possible winning combination on your ticket. The more horses you add to your ticket (in any position) the more possible winning combinations you will have thus the higher cost of the wager. You can check out the other types of trifecta bets here, where the costs are much higher because of the numerous potential winning combinations

Trifecta Betting Calculator

This is a tricky thing to answer because the payout really depends on how many people have the winning ticket with the winning combination. Because of the popularity of the bet, the money wagered into the Trifecta pool is split amongst the winning tickets (after the track takes their cut of the pool). After the race, some tracks are known to flash the trifecta payout in $1 increments, while some show the amount for a $2 bet. If you bet $1 on the ticket, you would get half of amount of a $2 trifecta. For example, if the $2 trifecta payout is $200, you would get $100 if you wagered $1, which would profit you $99 if you only used three horses like mentioned above. To put this into perspective, the biggest Kentucky Derby payout happened in 2005 when Giacomo stunned the racing world at 50-1 odds. He was followed by Closing Argument which went off at 71-1 and then the second-choice Afleet Alex at 9/2. This combination paid out $133,134.90 on a $2 trifecta wager. That is some serious profit if you used just those three horses.

Trifecta Betting Strategies

Much like your typical sports betting, strategies and angles can only take you so far before whatever is going to happen in the race actually happens. In my opinion, the best strategyto use when thinking about placing a trifecta bet is to have an idea of how the race is going to play out and how the surface (dirt or turf) is going to affect the race. For example, if the surface is playing favorable to speed-style horses, it may be hard to include a closing-style horse for first or second. Another strategy I tend to use is one where I try to beat the favorite, thus increasing the chance for a bigger payout. When you see a favorite with odds of 8/5, 3/2 or 1/9, you know the majority of the betting public feel that they have their money on the best horse. Most squares tend to play the favorite “on top” (to come in first place in the trifecta) with a slew of horses for second and third. Because of this, the amount of winning tickets that include the favorite for first will typically yield a very poor return on your investment. If you look to beat the favorite and a longshot comes in first and/or second, the chances that people have that exact trifecta combination reduces drastically, thus increasing your payout and profit. 

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