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What is a “wheel” bet in horse racing?

A wheel bet is a strategy in which a handicapper who fancies a horse in a particular race, connects it to many runners in so-called “exotic” wagers like exactas, Pick 3s, etc.

For example, a horseplayer may use the 1 horse in the first position of a $/£1 trifecta, then hit the all button for the next two legs. If the 1 wins, it doesn’t matter who runs second or third.

The cost of such a ticket escalates quickly, however. The above bet, using a $/£1 base unit in a 12 horse field, would cost $/£110, for instance (calculated by the number of possible combinations).

For that reason, many gamblers will use a partial wheel in some instances to cut the initial cost of a ticket while retaining a reasonable chance of winning. Using the same race using a partial wheel strategy, a ticket might look like this: 1 over 2, 5, 6, 8 over 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10. That would reduce the cost to $/£24.

Wheels are best used when handicappers has a strong opinion about a winner in a particular race, but bettors can get creative with it as well. For example, a race may have a horse that always seems to finish second, in which case you could wheel an exacta using the “all” button for first and the eternal runner-up to place.