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Glossary of Betting Terms Used At Saratoga Race Course

And Your Chances of Winning

By John Pricci, Executive Editor,

"John Pricci's Saratoga Diary" will run exclusively every racing day during the 41-day Saratoga meet. If an event is worth covering, a quote worth reading, a debut worth noting, a spectacular performance or a horse in trouble worth betting back, you'll find it in Pricci's Saratoga Diary. And, as an added bonus, free handicapping analysis of every graded stakes offered at the meet.

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Win: Your horse must finish first, payoffs determined by the odds set by all bettors, minus parimutuel takeout. Chances of winning are good. Favorites win about one-third of the time.

Place: Your horse must finish first or second. Chances of winning are better than with win wagering. Payoffs determined by the amount of money wagered on first two finishes in place pool, minus takeout.

Show: Your horse must finish first, or second or third. The easiest bet to win. Payoffs determined by wagers on first three finishers in the show pool, minus takeout. You won't get rich.

Exacta: Known as a multiple-pool wager, your two horses must finish first or second in exact order. Longshots in exactas can make you rich. Higher degree of difficulty than win betting. Payoffs determined by the amount bet on each individual combination in exacta pool.

Quinella: Like an exacta, only your horses can finish first and second in either order. Easier than the exacta in that sense, the payoff is about half of what a winning exacta pays.

Trifecta: Your three horses must finish first, second and third in exact order. A sometimes costly wager when using many horses, the degree of difficulty increases proportionately.

Superfecta: Your four horses must finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order. Very high degree of difficulty and expensive when using many horses. Four-figure payoffs are routine. Five-figure payoffs occur with fair regularity, especially in contentious races with large fields.

Daily Double: Your horses must win two consecutive races. Twice the degree of difficulty as win betting, obviously, but an efficient wager since the takeout is extracted once, not twice.

Pick 3: You must win three consecutive races in sequence. Exponentially harder than the daily double even though it's only one more race. Your chances increase when making larger investments. Can be expensive. Payoffs very commonly in three figures.

Pick 4: You must win four consecutive races. Bettors of multiple combinations have a good chance despite the degree of difficulty, which is extremely high.

Pick 6: A near impossible wager to win, especially for the novice, and it demands a very large investment of capital. If you're right, the winnings could change your life. Four-figure payoffs extremely common. The ultimate challenge.

Parimutuel Wagering: Derived from the French meaning "between us," the term reflects that the bet-taker is accepting wagers from a group of bettors, paying out all monies taken in minus the takeout.

Handle: The amount of money wagered in each pool. Traditionally measured daily as the sum wagered in all pools.

Commingled Handle: The amount wagered at simulcast and off-track betting venues added to on-track handle commonly reported as a total handle figure.

Takeout: The amount of pre-tax on wagers extracted by state and local municipalities and track operators with monies going to fund education, purses, and operational expenses. Between takeout on straight and exotic wagers, the blended takeout rate nationwide is about 20 percent.

Exotic Wagering: Bet Type, The Biggest Pools And Where To Find Them

Multi-Race exotics consist of four basic types. In ascending degree of difficulty, they are the daily double, Pick 3, Pick 4 and Pick 6. This order not only reflects degree of difficulty but is emblematic of the reasonable expectation of cashing a winning ticket. Bankroll is tantamount. Not only do multi-race wagers require a much larger bankroll for reasonable expectation but the Pick 4 and, especially, the Pick 6 needs capital in reserve. The greatest handicappers with the largest bankrolls can go weeks without cashing a Pick 6.

Multi-race wagers requires much more pre-race study and is not recommended for handicappers that include body language assessment in their handicapping arsenal. As a general rule, under-funded players cannot afford to tie up their capital over an extended number of races. In terms of betting value, pools that are guaranteed by the track to reach a minimum level, say $100,000 in the Pick 3, $400,000 in the Pick 4 and $1 million for the Pick 6 almost always insures that payouts will be generous. A Pick 6 with carryover money from a previous un-hit pool is almost always a play regardless of bankroll limitations. Anytime a track pays out more money than it takes in that day guarantees value.

Intra-Race exotics include, in ascending order of difficulty and bankroll requirement, exactas, trifectas and superfectas. These pools are preferred for handicappers possessing body language and tote-watching skills. The approach is much different relative to odds. A horse quoted at 10-1 to win has, relatively speaking, a nine percent chance to finish first. However, his chances of finishing second or third could rise to 15 or 20 percent, making him more likely to finish in the money than win. However, in many circumstances it is far more difficult to predict that a horse will finish third or fourth than first. In a typical eight-horse field, one or two horses may have the best chance to win, but four or five horses could finish third or fourth.