What is the difference between the exacta and the quinella?

I place a $2.00 bet on the quinella and pick horses 5 and 6. I win if the horses finish either 5-6 or 6-5. I bet a $2.00 exacta and pick horses 5 and 6. I only win if they finish 5-6. I can place a $4.00 exacta box bet and win if the horses finish 5-6 or 6-5. I can also, at some tracks, place a $2.00 exacta box bet and receive half of the exacta payout. Why do some tracks offer both forms of wagering? How is the payout determined for each type of wagering? Is there an advantage to either betting an exacta or a quinella?

All horse track betting is parimutuel. In other words, the track takes all of the money bet on a particular proposition, removes a cut for themselves (10-20%), then divvies up the remainder to the winning ticket holders. Exacta, Quinella, Daily Double, or straight Win bets are all the same in this regard. Place and Show bets are a bit more complex.

Unless the track’s “vig” is different on the different classes of bet (possible, but unlikely), then no bet is inherently “better” than the other.

The whole issue is entirely whether what actually happens was a popular choice among the bettors or an unpopular choice. If popular, you’ll split the same pot with lots of other folks, ie the “odds” will be short. If unpopular, you might even have the whole payout to yourself, ie the odds will be very long.

Tracks deliberately cloud the issue. The term “odds” is really a minomer applied to payouts. Technically, “odds” refers to the likelihood of a particular occurrence, and in parimutel wagering that is completely divorced from the size of the payout.

The best bet is always the one where you guess right and almost everybody else guesses wrong. The problem is deciding which it is beforehand.

Why do tracks offer both? Some bettors are more enticed to bet by the rare big payoff, while other prefer the more continuous gratification of a drip feed of smaller payouts. The track’s goal is to get both to part with their money, so they offer products suited to both tastes. Either way the house takes its vig and doesn’t care which horse wins.