A perfecta box bet lets you bet on two or more horses to finish 1-2 in a race. Where in a straight perfecta bet, you have to get the two horses right and their exact order right, in the perfecta box, you are able to cover all combinations involving the horses in your box.
Perfecta Box Example
Assume you have a 9-horse race and you have the 1st and 2nd place finishers narrowed down to horses #4, #5, and #7. If you’re pretty certain some combination of those three horses are going to finish first and second in the race, then you can make a 4-5-7 perfecta box wager.
In this case, you win if the final order of the horses to win and place are 4-5, 4-7, 5-4, 7-4, 5-7, or 7-5. This gives you six winning combinations, so a conventional $1 wager becomes a $6 perfecta box bet.
If you chose to add a fourth horse to the box, this is allowed (more than 4 horses is allowed, too). The cost of placing perfecta box bets with four or more horses quickly gets much more expensive, as the possible winning combinations multiply.
Perfecta or Exacta?
You’ll often hear perfecta bets referred to as “exacta bets”, since you have to get the winning two horses exactly right. If you here someone at the race track talking about exacta or exacta box bets, you’ll know they’re talking about betting perfectas. Less frequently, exacta bets are called “exactor” bets.
Betting the Perfecta Box
Those parimutuel betters new to the horse track are better off avoiding the straight perfecta/exacta wagers. Experienced horse gamblers have a hard time picking the top two horses in a race, because you have to factor in the horse’s history, the jockey’s history, the trainer’s history, the track, that particular day’s track conditions, and (even more nebulous) how every horse in the field happens to be “feeling” that day.
Of course, some races involve such mismatches or such good matchups for certain horses, that you can predict with some degree of certainty what’s going to happen. But of the exotic bets, picking out the straight, conventional perfecta, trifecta, and superfecta outcomes is no easy task. If you’re new to horse racing and you want to make an exotic wager, make a box bet, a key bet, or a wheel bet.