What is a Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing?

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A trifecta is a wager that requires the bettor to correctly predict the winner, the runner-up and the third-place finisher of a particular race — in exact order. Variations of this bet include a trifecta box, a trifecta key and a trifecta key box.
 
What is a trifecta box?
 
A trifecta box is a wager in which the bettor plays a multitude of horses to finish either first, second or third — in any order. The cost of the ticket is determined by the base bet amount and the number of combinations. For example, a $1 trifecta box with three horses would cost $6 ($1 x 3 possible winners x 2 possible second-place finishers x 1 possible third-place finisher).  
 
What is a trifecta key?
 
With a trifecta key — or trifecta key wheel — a bettor uses one horse in the win position (“on top”) and numerous others in the place and show slots (“underneath”). The cost of the ticket is based on the base bet and the number of combinations used underneath. Thus, a $1 trifecta key with three horses underneath would cost $6 ($1 x 3 possible second-place finishers x 2 possible third-place finishers).  
 
What is a trifecta key box?
 
This bet is very similar to a trifecta key, except that the key horse can finish either first, second or third — as long as at least two of the other horses on the ticket finish in the top three. For example a trifecta key box of 1 with 2, 3 would pay off on the following combinations: 1-2-3, 1-3-2, 2-1-3, 3-1-2, 2-3-1 and 3-2-1.

Again, the cost of this wager is determined by the number of combinations multiplied by the base bet. So, a $1 trifecta key box of 1-2,3,4 would cost $18. This is determined as follows: $1 x (1 x 3 x 2 + 3 x 1 x 2 + 3 x 2 x 1).

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