Horse Bets: How to Bet the Pick 3 Wager

The Championships Day 1
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The Pick 3 wager requires you to select the winner of three consecutive races. This wager generally offers much a much higher pay-off than just betting the 3 horses to win in each race.  It is also one of the most popular exotic bets as, most would argue it's easier to pick winners than losers (which is what you are doing in the case of the Trifecta, another 3 horse bet).

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time Required: 30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Select the horse you think will win each race. You can select more than one in each race but this will increase the amount of your wager.
  2. Go to the betting window and tell the clerk which track and race you wish to bet on.  In the case of the Pick 3 you will call out the race number of the first leg of the series you have handicapped. So to bet on the Pick 3 series that comprises races 7, 8, and 9 you will call it as a Race 7 bet.
  3. If you only selected one horse per race, tell the clerk '$1.00 Pick 3: 1 with 2 with 3' (or whichever horses you selected). The minimum Pick 3 wager may be $2 at some tracks.
  4. If you selected more than one horse per race, tell the clerk '$1.00 Pick 3 wheel: 1, 2 with 1, 2 with 1, 2' (or whichever horses you selected).
  5. Make sure your ticket is correct before you leave the window.
  6. Take your ticket and watch and cheer for your selections.


  1. The more horses you pick in each race, the better chance you have of cashing your ticket, but your ticket will also be more expensive.
  2. You determine the cost of your wager by multiplying the number of horses in each race together then by the amount wagered. For example: 1 x 2 x 2 x $1 = $4. You always call out the base bet amount ($1, $2, 50 cents), and the teller (or the display if you are using a SAM) will tell you what to pay. Using this example that is called as a $1 bet, not $4, but you will pay $4 to place it.
  3. Some tracks allow you to fill out your Pick 3 bets on a betting card similar to that used for Pick 6 wagering.  This is highly recommended if available as it lessens the chance of your calling out the wrong horse numbers to a teller, the teller incorrectly entering the wager, or you incorrectly entering your wager on the SAM.
  4. The minimum wager on a Pick 3 is usually $1 or $2, although increasingly tracks offer smaller minimums as low as 10 cents per combination. Ask the clerk or check the track program for the minimum amount at your track. You can wager a larger amount if you like.
  5. Some tracks offer the Win Parlay where you pick the winners of 3 races and if you were correct in the first leg your winnings roll over and are bet to win on your second leg selection.  You only win if all your selections win. However, the Pick 3 will generally pay more than a Parlay of the same horses because you are only exposed to takeout and breakage once, rather than three times.
  6. Look out for guaranteed pools in the Pick 3, commonly seen on big race days with lots of stakes races.  These may be more difficult to handicap but can offer value especially if less money than the guarantee is bet and the track is forced to make up the difference.
  7. The Pick 3 is a much better bet for small-time or casual bettors since it has lower minimums and guaranteed payouts every time (if nobody selects all 3 successfully, it will pay out to those who selected 2 of 3 correct). This is in stark contrast with the Pick 6 with its $2 minimum, carryovers when not hit, and the pool is all but "bought out" by deep pocketed syndicates.