Exotic wagering opportunities also involve betting in more than one race, and linking the bets together. The two-race link is the daily double. Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 6 are other common options. (Pick 5 is often available, and "place pick all" is an option exclusively at California tracks.) The multiple picks are the same structure as the daily double, with just more races included. Tracks may designate which races can be included in the multiple race bets, so the selection of races is not always up to the free choice of the horse player. Like the multiple horse bets, the multiple race bets become geometrically more expensive as additional races are included, and they quickly blow the top off the maximum bet rule of the player with a modest bankroll.
The essence of the bet is to pick the winner of two or more races. To understand the wagering strategy of the multiple race ticket, think of a parlay. This wager risks the winnings from the first bet on the second. If the first bet is lost, the whole operation is over. The payoffs on a parlay reflect the additional risk of making the second bet contingent on winning the first one. Yet most people bet safely on the first race in the parlay. An example would be money on the clear (and reliable) favorite. Then the second bet can be a little more risky. The "place" and "show" options are not available in a structured parlay, nor are they available in the other multiple race bets.
The daily double is different from the parlay, in that it will pay more generously if the first race involves a bet against a favorite. The estimated payoff for the double is displayed on the screens, so the value of the ticket can be compared to its cost. In the case of the parlay, just the first race odds are visible at the time the bet is made.
The cost of a double with two horses at $2 per combination will be $8. If both races have a couple of strong contenders, then wagering two horses to win the same race is not foolish. A race can be "keyed" for a horse as well. The same daily double ticket, but with just one horse in the first race, costs $6. It is possible to add horses to the betting in each race. For example, the same daily double ticket, but with three picks per race, would be $12 (three horses in two races gives 6 possible combinations, times $2 per combination).
It is possible to add races to the ticket. Instead of two races, it could be three. In such a case, two horses per race would yield a ticket costing $16 (two horses in each of three races yields eight combinations, times $2 per combination). A $1 ticket would be $8, and more within the minimum wagering rules of the disciplined player with a $100 bankroll.
Combinations and keying of horses can be altered in accordance with the handicapping. If one race has a clear favorite, but another is iffy with up to four possibilities, and the third with two, then the ticket would have one horse, then 4, then 2. That is 8 possible combinations, or $8 at the level of $1 per combination. This improves the value of the ticket by reducing its cost without reducing its prospects (assuming accurate handicapping).
These combinations are called "part wheels." They can be thought of as incomplete "boxes." Instead of creating a "box" or matrix of horses and races (multiple races) or horses and finishes (multiple horses), a wagerer can "take a stand" on a specific horse and reduce the cost of the bet.
One example is a five-horse trifecta. The cost of a $1 box of five horses to win, place and show is $60 (the number of combinations are five times four times three, as the same horse can not both win and place or show). Suppose that three of the horses have little or no chance of winning. The number of combinations drops from 60 to 32 (keying each of two horses, plus the four remaining horses in the two finishing positions, give 2 times 4 times 4 or 32).
If this part wheel does not sacrifice a perceptible probability, then the reduction in cost of almost 50% makes the bet that much more valuable.
Another example is the pick 3. Picking three horses in each of three races is $27 at the $1 level (three times three times three). If the first race does not really have three contenders, perhaps a pick of only two horses in the first and second races can be made without materially affecting the "true odds" - the real expectation of the outcome. In such a case the price of the ticket drops substantially, as there are only 12 possible outcome combinations (two times two times three), and the ticket is more than half the price.
An unusual form of constructing a part wheel would be to bet on all the horses in one race and on only one or two in the others. Suppose that the first two races had clear favorites, but the third race was totally up for grabs. Perhaps there's a big gap in the handicapping for the third race. There are 8 horses in race three. By creating a part wheel of one horse in each of the first two races and all horses in the third race, the pick 3 ticket has 8 possible combinations and costs just $8 at the $1 level. (At the betting window this is understood to mean using "the all button" on race three.)
Whether one "boxes" the horses or uses a part-wheel is a decision based on the handicapping, and whether you can rule out certain of the combinations with confidence. The part wheels save money only when some candidates can be discarded without compromising your expectation of the outcome.