Trifecta Box Explained – What is a trifecta bet in horse racing?


Alex W


Sep 15, 2022

Huge sports fan. Football & MLS fanatic. Lover of all things gambling - Sports betting, Casino, Poker and of course, Las Vegas.


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When you feel comfortable that you understand the basic aspects of wagering, you may want to move to more complex bets such as Trifecta betting.

A Trifecta wager gives modest bettors the opportunity to win big from a small outlay of cash. The definition of a Trifecta is players picking the correct selection of the first, second, and third-place finishers in the exact order. The reason Trifecta horse betting is so popular is that there is the chance of winning massive amounts of cash.

A Trifecta bet payout often reaches five figures, and in significant horse racing events such as the Kentucky Derby, the payouts can often be six figures.

When it comes to horse racing betting, a Trifecta is relatively new compared to boxed betting or Exactas. Consequently, Trifectas are not well-known among the general betting public. One of the reasons for this is that Trifecta payouts are not displayed on the tote board prior to the beginning of a race. This means most bettors are guessing and over-betting combinations that have a very small chance of winning. In addition to people having a bad Trifecta betting strategy and lazy handicapping, it means Exacta pools have less inefficiencies.

These inefficiencies are exploited daily by intelligent handicappers. These handicappers know what is the smartest bet in horse racing and structure their Trifecta bets based on probability and profit. There are four different methods of betting the Trifecta, which are:

  • Trifecta Wheel Bet
  • Trifecta Key Part Wheels
  • Straight Trifecta Betting
  • Box Trifecta Bet

The Tri box bet is the most prominent method of betting the Trifecta, even though it is the most inefficient.

This article will cover how to bet a Trifecta, a good Trifecta strategy, average Trifecta payout, Trifecta combinations, and how to box bet in horse racing. You can of course use trifecta betting in conjunction with one of the free horse racing bets available from licensed racebooks. If you have been wondering what is a Trifecta bet in horse racing, this article will provide answers.

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What Is A Trifecta Box Bet?

Also referred to as a boxed trifecta bet.This is the most used and straightforward method of Trifecta betting. Trifecta boxes allow bettors to play multiple Trifecta combinations on a single ticket. These are typically offered at most racetracks in denominations as low as $1. For example, a $1 Trifecta box of horses 4-5-6 would include six $1 combinations at the cost of $6.

Trifecta boxes mean you can choose more than three runners, typically three or more horses. You could even cover the whole field and play every possible Trifecta combination in a single race if you like, although we would not recommend doing this as you are unlikely to see any long-term profits.

Trifecta box

How Do You Calculate A Trifecta?

If you want to calculate your Trifecta trifecta box payout or your 6 horse trifecta box, it is essential to know each type of Trifecta wager is calculated slightly differently. This is why it is crucial to know how much money you are placing based on the risks involved. Let’s take a look at our Trifecta box calculator for a breakdown of the costs of a Trifecta Bet.

Trifecta Box

To work out the cost for a box bet, you need to multiply the number of horses used by the number of horses used minus one. For example:

  • $1 Trifecta Box with three horses: $6 (6 possible combinations)
  • $1 Trifecta Box with four horses: $24 (24 possible combinations)
  • $1 Trifecta Box with five horses: $60 (60 possible combinations)

You can do the same if you want to wager more money with a $2 trifecta box etc. As with any form of exotic bet, such as an Exacta, the more horses you add, the more money you are likely to use by the final outcome. Exotic bets like these or a super high five wager are exciting but very difficult to win. This is why if we were to look at a method vs. Trifecta betting strategy, we would recommend Trifecta as best for experienced handicappers.

It doesn’t matter if it is a huge race or an unexpected win; an Exacta payout typically gives an excellent return, which is why horsebox is so popular.

Trifecta Part Wheel

For this type of Trifecta, multiply the number of horses used on top or the win position of the exacta with the hoses in second. Make sure you minus one if the same number is used on top in the exacta.

This can be broken down as follows:

  • X amount of horses in first multiplied by X of horses in second minus 1 of X horses in third minus 2.
  • For example, a $1 Trifecta Part Wheel 1 with 2,3,4 with 2,3,4,5 would equate to 1 x 3 x 3 = $9 (9 possible combinations)

The best way to play full wheels is when you like a horse who is an underdog, and you are confident that the first and second favorites will finish out of the money.

$1 Trifecta Key

To work out the cost of a Trifecta Key, you can use this equation: $ x Number of horses x number of horses minus one. For example, if you place a $1 Trifecta Key 1 with 2,3,4,5, this would equate to 1 x 4 x 3, which gives you 12 possible combinations at the cost of $12.

What Are The Most Common Trifecta Numbers?

If you believe patterns play a big role in the success or otherwise in betting, you may want to take a look at the most common Trifecta numbers. You can look at form and progress going into each race which could sway your decision. However, we wouldn’t get too lose in the numbers. The only time you should consider placing a Trifecta box, or large Trifecta wheel is when you feel the two favorites have a decent chance of finishing out of the money.

Otherwise, you will lose vast amounts of money over time with different strategies. After all, predicting the correct order in a horse race is far from easy. If you are entirely bemused by a race and can’t separate the contenders from the non-contenders, you shouldn’t wager. It is best not to play Trifecta boxes just so you can cash a ticket at a loss.

Structuring your bets using Trifecta key part wheels is a far wiser strategy than looking for the most common numbers.

How Do You Win An Exacta Box?

With an Exacta box bet, you will be picking the first two horses in the order of finish. However, you will able to win the bet if the two horses come in first and second in any order. For example, if you wager a 4-6 exacta, you would win the wager with a 4-6 or 6-4 result.

The box for Exacta horse betting gives players access to two combinations. Consequently, it is, in essence, two bets. It will cost you at least $4 (two $2 bets) to bet a full exacta box. Lots of tracks also have a $1 exacta box. This gives bettors a box and will cost you only $2 as it represents two $1 bets.

Sites Offering Trifecta Bets

If you don’t want to visit a race track and would rather place a combination trifecta from home, you can do so. You can place a wager on multiple horses or submit a simple place bet on the following sites:

  • TVG
  • TwinSpires
  • BetAmerica
  • Nyra Bets

All of the above sites will offer odds on stakes races such as the Belmont Stakes and offer different bet type such as boxed trifecta and other multiple bet options. You will also find lost of horse racing news and the latest key horse info on these dedicated horse betting sites.


What does Trifecta mean in horse racing?

A Trifecta bet is a type of wager placed on a horse race in which the bettor must predict which horses finish first, second and third in the exact order.

How much does a trifecta pay?

This depends on how much money you place and how many combinations you choose. Refer to our Trifecta calculator above to work out the potential payout for each form of Trifecta wager.

How much does a $2 trifecta box cost with 4 horses?

A $2 Trifecta wager  1/2,4,6,8 would cost $36. The 1 in this instance is the key, so it must finish in the top three positions.

What pays more exacta or Trifecta?

This depends on the odds of the horse combinations in relation to the total amount wagered in each of these pools. Occasionally the payoff from the exacta pool will generate more money than the returns from the trifecta pool, but typically the Trifecta pays more.