As many people know, trifectas can be very profitable bets in horse racing. Unfortunately, they are also difficult to hit. The larger the field size the more possible combinations and the more chances that one or more horses you left out of your tri box bet will sneak in there and ruin your chances.
In a typical horse race with an 8 horse field there are 336 possible trifecta combinations. Playing a $1 trifecta box would therefore cost $336, way too much money to spend to hit the average $1 tri payout. Narrowing it down to a 5 horse box bet makes it cost $60 and a 4 horse box is just $24.
But in many races, even a $24 bet is just too much to wager. If you are successful enough to hit half of your trifecta bets, that still means you are spending $48 to hit the $1 tri. Considering what most trifectas pay on horse races, that is just too much to spend unless you are very good at singling out longshots that will somehow complete the tri. For most handicappers who play horses that seem a logical play, at least on paper, long shots are rarely found in their trifecta bets.
Therefore, it would seem that the logical thing to do, in order to make a profit betting trifectas, is to somehow lower the cost of your bets. I like a two horse key for this situation and like to use four horses.
First, I need to identify two horses that I think will be in the money, in the first or second or third position. They usually turn out to be pretty low priced horses since they are obvious contenders. I will key them both in every one of the three legs of the tri. Let’s call them A and B.
The next step is to find two other horses that I feel may make it into the trifecta. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find one or two that are at long enough odds to pay well when I hit the tri. We will call them C and D. Only one of them will have to hit the board since the other two positions will be taken up by my top choices, A and B. Since I feel strongly about A and B, I play them in the in position and do not play C or D in the win position.
My $1 tri key bets would look like this (each one will cost $4)….
The total for those two bets is just $8 and I have used four horses to make the bet. I have just put a finer point on it by picking the top two horses that I think are most likely to hit the board and also to win the race. While horse C or D occasionally beats me and does win the race, it is very rare. Many handicappers are good enough to isolate the horses that will complete the trifecta, but fail to bet them correctly, and therefore they lose money even though they are cashing tickets.
Switching from a trifecta box to a trifecta key bet, such as the one above, can be a profitable move if you are trying to make a profit from betting on horse races and hitting trifectas.