Horse Racing 101: How do Box Bets Work?

by | 14 May 2022

If you’ve been around horse racing enthusiasts long enough, you might’ve already heard the term “box bet” thrown around among punters in betting pools. Maybe you’ve gotten the hang of horse racing bets by now, or maybe the bettor jargon still makes your head spin. 

Either way, we’re delving into how box bets work in horse racing, their different variations, and some tips to consider when utilising this betting strategy.

What is a Box Bet?

Before we dive into the more complicated terminologies, let’s start with the basics of box bets in horse racing.

You might have already heard of exotic bets. With these kinds of bets, you would have to predict the order of finish for multiple horses in a single race. 

With box bets, bettors just have to select multiple horses and cover all possible order combinations for a specific finishing position, without having to predict the exact order in which they will finish. 

The primary objective of a box bet is to increase the chances of winning by including several horses in the bet.

How Box Bets Work

To place a box bet, horse racing bettors must select a certain number of horses (usually two or more) and choose a specific finishing position for those horses. 

Because this is a box bet, the horses’ order of finish does not matter; as long as the selected horses occupy the chosen finishing positions, the bet is a winner.

The cost of each kind of box bet depends on the number of horses selected. For each combination, the bettor is essentially placing a separate bet. The more horses included in the box, the higher the overall betting cost.

Types of Box Bets

1. Exacta Box

In an exacta box, the bettor selects two or more horses to finish in the top two positions. This horse racing bet covers all possible combinations, such as Horse A and Horse B, Horse B and Horse A, and so on.

This way, you’re essentially betting on the possibility of any of their chosen horses finishing first and the remaining horse(s) finishing second.

For example, if a bettor places an exacta box bet on Horses A, B, and C, there are six possible combinations covered by the bet:

  • Horse A (first) and Horse B (second)
  • Horse A (first) and Horse C (second)
  • Horse B (first) and Horse A (second)
  • Horse B (first) and Horse C (second)
  • Horse C (first) and Horse A (second)
  • Horse C (first) and Horse B (second)

2. Trifecta Box

A trifecta box involves selecting three or more horses to finish in the top three positions. The bet covers all potential combinations, providing greater coverage and higher chances of winning.

Just like the last type, the order of finish for the chosen horses is irrelevant. 

For example, if a bettor places a trifecta box bet on Horses A, B, and C, there are six possible combinations covered by the bet:

  • Horse A (first), Horse B (second), Horse C (third)
  • Horse A (first), Horse C (second), Horse B (third)
  • Horse B (first), Horse A (second), Horse C (third)
  • Horse B (first), Horse C (second), Horse A (third)
  • Horse C (first), Horse A (second), Horse B (third)
  • Horse C (first), Horse B (second), Horse A (third)

3. Superfecta Box

The superfecta box is the most comprehensive box bet, as it involves selecting four or more horses to finish in the top four positions. Like the previous boxes, the superfecta box covers all possible combinations.

For example, if a bettor places a superfecta box bet on Horses A, B, C, and D, there are 24 possible combinations covered by the bet:

  • Horse A (first), Horse B (second), Horse C (third), Horse D (fourth)
  • Horse A (first), Horse B (second), Horse D (third), Horse C (fourth)
  • Horse A (first), Horse C (second), Horse B (third), Horse D (fourth)
  • Horse A (first), Horse C (second), Horse D (third), Horse B (fourth)
  • Horse A (first), Horse D (second), Horse B (third), Horse C (fourth)
  • Horse A (first), Horse D (second), Horse C (third), Horse B (fourth)


And so on…

Related: Horse Racing 101: Exploring The Different Types Of Bets (Part 1)

Tips for Placing Box Bets in Horse Racing 

1. Carefully Analyse Horses

Betting in horse racing goes beyond mere guesswork. Conduct thorough research on the participating horses, their recent form, track conditions, jockey and trainer statistics, and past performances. 

Also take the time to learn about any recent injuries or changes in equipment that could impact a horse’s performance—and of course, your betting outcome.  

The more information you have, the better equipped you’ll be to make well-informed decisions when selecting the horses for your box bet.

2. Budget Wisely

Sure, box bets offer greater coverage and bigger chances of winning, but take note of the drawbacks as well. Before you step into that betting pool, make sure to set a betting budget and stick to it.

Placing excessive box bets with large stakes is all fun and games, until you find your bankroll runs out!

3. Mix Favorites with Longshots

In horse racing betting lingo, favorites are basically bets that are more likely to win. On the other hand, longshots or underdogs are bets that are less likely to win. When they do, though, the payouts are much sweeter!

So while everyone knows favorites are more likely to finish in the top positions, including longshots in your box bets can lead to higher payouts if they manage to perform well. 

This way, you strike a balance between increased coverage and even the potential for more significant returns in horse racing. Though, if you’d rather err on the side of caution, make sure your box bets still cover strong contenders to increase your chances of winning. 

Related: Do you make these three crucial mistakes when betting on horse racing?


Box betting in horse racing can help bettors looking to increase their winning chances and explore different strategies. 

By understanding how each type of box bets work, you can make informed decisions the next time you step into the betting pool. Remember to analyse the horses and manage your budget responsibly to maximise the enjoyment and potential rewards of box bets in horse racing.

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