Other than the Super Bowl, no single event in American sports generates as much wagering from the general public as the Kentucky Derby. And while many people know about the main race, there are races going on throughout the day, creating more opportunities to earn some extra cash.

But if you don’t know the proper horse betting terms, you’re more likely to lose that extra cash.

Certain strategies are kept super secret, especially by my grandfather who used to live at the track. He says “I’m going to work” and not a word is heard from him until he’s lost his money or wins big.

The strategy I work with on Kentucky Derby betting is simply picking the names of the horses I like. Take this advice with a grain of salt as I’ve only come away on top one time in all the years I’ve bet on this day.

But just like any other sport, there are numerous sites to place your bet at if your’re not lucky enough to attend the race itself. But before you start throwing your money down on some random horses, you might want to know the betting terms because you know…that always helps.

Any of these terms will show up wherever you try to place a bet for the Derby. Once you learn the terms then you can figure out which one of the favorites you want to choose.


The horse must finish in first place.


The horse must finish first or second.


The horse must finish first, second or third.


A wager picking the two finishers in a race in that exact order.

Exacta Box

A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are covered.


A wager picking the first three finishers in exact order. Also called a “Triple” or “Triactor.”


A wager that picks the first four finishers in a race in that exact order.

Superfecta Box

You play four horses. They must finish first, second, third, and fourth in ANY order.

Superfecta Key

You play four horses. You chose one horse to win, called the key horse, who must come in first followed by the other three horses second, third, and fourth in any order to collect.


A wager in which two horses must finish first and second in either order.

Daily Double

Type of wager calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races.

Pick 3

Type of wager calling for the selection of winners of three consecutive races.

Pick 4

Type of wager calling for the selection of winners of four consecutive races.

Pick 6

Type of wager calling for the selection of winners of six consecutive races.


Two horses from different races combined to win.