Wheel an Exacta

horse racing breeders cup
You have to pick the top 2 horses in order to win an Exacta bet. Cindy Pierson Dulay

The Exacta requires you to select the first two finishers in order. Wheeling lets you minimize your wager while giving you more chances to win. The exacta usually offers higher pay-offs than win, place, or show wagers, but less than the trifecta, superfecta, high-5, or multi-race bets involving 3 or more races.   

Note that some tracks (and old-timers) may still call it the Perfecta.  Canadian tracks call it the Exactor (short for "exact order"), while in foreign countries it may be called the (straight) forecast.


Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Select the horse you think will win.
  2. Select two or more horses that you think have the best chance to finish second.
  3. Go to the betting window and tell the clerk which track and race you wish to bet on
  4. Tell the clerk '$1.00 exacta wheel 1 over 2, 3, 4' (or whichever horses you selected). Most tracks will take a $1 minimum on a wheel but some still require a $2 minimum.
  5. Make sure your ticket is correct before you leave the window.
  6. Take your ticket and watch and cheer for your selections.


  1. The more horses you key under your winner, the better chance you have of cashing your ticket, but your ticket will also be more expensive.
  2. The wheel will cost $1 per horse placed in second. $2 for 2, $3 for 3, etc.
  3. $1 is generally the minimum wager on an exacta wheel but some tracks still require a $2 minimum. You can wager a larger amount if you like.
  4. You always call the amount of the BASE bet, generally $1 or $2, and not the total cost of the wager. The teller will key in your bet and the total cost will appear on the display.
  1. What we have described above is technically a "part wheel" but modern tote systems no longer require you to specify "part" (in older systems, the tellers had to press a "part" button).   A true wheel involves choosing one horse over the rest of the field.  This would be called out "$1 exacta wheel 1 - all" or "$1 exacta wheel 1 on top".  In the case of a 9 horse field this would cost $8, for the 8 exacta combinations purchased.
  1. You also do not have to always key a horse to win.  You might see a horse who consistently finishes second and are confident he will do it again so you can key him underneath.  In this case you could bet "$1 exacta wheel 2, 3, 4 over 1", or (similar to tip 5 above) "$1 exacta wheel all -1" or "$1 exacta wheel 1 on the bottom".  If that horse suddenly figures out how to win, you lose!
  2. Finally, you are not limited to having just 1 horse in either position.  You could bet "$1 exacta wheel 1,2,3 over 4,5,6". You're more likely to try this with large fields like the Kentucky Derby or Melbourne Cup.
  3. For value, you do not want a result where the winning exacta involves the favorite and the second choice. This combination is always overbet.  You need a mid to long shot, preferably on top, to make the investment in the wheel worthwhile. If your handicapping of a given race gives you an odds on choice winning with the second choice on the bottom, the exacta represents very poor value.   Find  longshots that could sneak in, or pass the race.