What is a Quinella?

by JP Sio

What is a quinella?

Horse racing is a fascinating sport.  Unlike many other sporting leagues like the NFL or the NBA, in this sport, animals play a significant role.  Usually, sports fans connect with the players as they can identify with them as human beings.  With horse racing, it’s quite different.  This makes the race tracks an exciting place where adrenaline rushes through the stands.  You see the horses on the field, waiting for the gate to open.  And the races last only a couple of minutes, so the experience is intense.  Bettors then wait for the official results and payouts, and march to the counter to cash their tickets.

There are lots of different betting opportunities for horse racing bettors.  When it comes to the quinella wager, some bettors tend to underestimate this type of wager.  It's not the most difficult bet of them all, so the potential payout is a lot smaller than the more exotic wagers.  But that also means you're not trying to catch lightning in a bottle, and there's a greater chance to succeed.

In this betting guide, we'll share all there is to know about the quinella wager:  how you can start placing quinella bets straightaway, and the most effective ways to place these wagers.  After all, we're striving for profits here!  To that end, it's a great idea to join BetAnySports, which is currently our #1-rated race book.  BetAnySports offers 10% bonus payouts on winnings at major tracks, as well as a 9% rebate on losing tickets, so it's a very smart move to create an account.

How to make a quinella bet

In any horse race, there can be 10 (or more) starting horses.  Each horse has its starting position, which corresponds to its number for that particular race.  The lower its number, the closer a horse is to the rail at the start.  With a quinella wager, you have to predict the horses that will be the top two finishers.  But the horses do not have to finish in an exact order.  All it takes is your two horses to finish among the top two spots at the end of the race.

We'll show a quick example to illustrate a quinella bet.  In this example, we'll take six starting horses to keep things easy to understand.

  1. Bullish Brother
  2. Fantastic Fabio
  3. Compassion Star
  4. Wins All
  5. Bright Kid
  6. Kanbeki Molly

You are watching the horses from the infield, looking for an edge to bet.  After some proper consideration, you pick Bullish Brother (1) and Wins All (4) as your top two finishers.  That leaves you with two possible outcomes to secure your winning ticket:

  • 1. Bullish Brother 2. Wins All
  • 1. Wins All 2. Bullish Brother

As the order of the two horses does not matter, any of these two outcomes will bring you a winning ticket.  To create your quinella ticket, you simply pick two horses, without filling in the order of finish, as that is irrelevant to the quinella wager.

What is a quinella box?
When betting the quinella, you're taking less risk than with the more exotic wagers that are available for horse racing.  You’re not risking your money with trifectas or superfectas; you’re keeping it safe and sound.  Nevertheless, there are still risks that come along with each wager.  In the above example, there were only six starting horses, which highly increases your chances.  In reality, there are usually at least 10 starting horses, which makes your quinella harder to succeed.  There's a strategy, though, to reduce your risk and increase your chances.  And that’s a quinella box.

When you can't decide among three horses, and you feel like taking a less risky route, you can create a quinella box.  That means you add a horse to your ticket and create each possible combination.  Let's take the example above to illustrate how this works.  We still trust Bullish Brother (1) and Wins All (4), but Fantastic Fabio (2) is looking excellent as well.  To cover each bet, we'll create a quinella box that makes your betting slip look like this:

  • Bullish Brother (1) and Wins All (4)
  • Bullish Brother (1) and Fantastic Fabio (2)
  • Wins All (4) and Fantastic Fabio (2)

You're wagering on all the possible combinations with your three key horses.  That means your initial stake increases, but your risk reduces simultaneously.  You can create a bigger box with more horses if you'd like.  You could cover each possible combination, but your quinella payout would probably not cover the costs of your wagers.  So we recommend keeping your quinella boxes to a maximum of three horses.

What is a quinella wheel?
There's another example of quinella wagering:  the quinella wheel strategy.  As you're already taking less risk than with an exotic wager like the trifecta or superfecta, we're playing a safer game here.  You can never fully cover the risk you're taking, but that would take away the fun, wouldn't it?

The quinella wheel revolves around trusting a particular horse.  Let's say you think Bullish Brother (1) will take the win, but you're uncertain which horse will end up in second place.  Then you could go for a quinella wheel which covers all possible combinations.  There are two possible strategies when it comes to the quinella wheel.

​Full wheel
When going for a full wheel, you cover each possible combination with your key horse.  In the case of Bullish Brother (1) a full wheel ticket would look like this:

  • 1 - 2
  • 1 - 3
  • 1 - 4
  • 1 - 5
  • 1 - 6

As you can see, each possible combination is covered with Bullish Brother (1) ending in the first position.  You should note each bet itself is a straight quinella wager, so your initial stake goes up with it.

Part wheel
The other way to use a quinella wheel is to take a part of the wheel, but not the entire thing.  This requires more handicapping, as you have to determine the horses you trust or don't trust at all.  In other words, if you are confident that Bright Kid (5) won't finish as high as second, then it wouldn’t make sense to add this horse into your wheel.  At the same time, if you are confident with other horses, you could add those to your wheel.  Let's say we take Bullish Brother to win, and Bright Kid to not finish among the top two.  Then, your part wheel would look something like this:

  • 1 - 2
  • 1 - 3
  • 1 - 4
  • 1 - 6

This takes away just one wager and thus reduces your initial stake.  But, now let’s say you're confident of just three horses ending up among the top three -- for example, horses #1, #3 and #6.  Then, your betting slip could look like this:

  • 1 - 3
  • 1 - 6
  • 3 - 6

As you can see here, this is similar to a quinella box just constructed in a different manner. This is one of the safest ways to bet the quinella wager.

What is the difference between a quinella and an exacta bet?
When you've done a little digging into horse betting, you’ve probably seen the term exacta.  It's a type of wager which has a lot of similarities with the quinella bet, but the risks are a little different.  With an exacta wager, you select two horses to end up in the first two positions, but there's a catch.  You have to predict the correct order of the two horses.

Logically, the exacta wager brings along more risk than a quinella bet, but the payout also increases along with it.  To reduce the risk, you could go for an exacta box or an exacta wheel, similar to the quinella bet.  The only difference is the fact that the order of the top two horses has to be exact.

How are quinella payouts calculated?

When you are familiar with race tracks, you know there's a huge tote board.  This board displays all the money that has been bet at the track on the race (both per horse, and per wager type).  This system is called pari-mutuel wagering.  All the money bet on the race is collected in a prize pool, which is later divided among all the winning tickets.  Therefore, each wager has different odds.

Each betting site or race track has its minimum bet.  But a quinella bet is typically made for $2.  Let's draw a scenario where 50,000 bettors each create a quinella ticket with the exact price being $2:

  • 50,000 x $2 = $100,000

After the race, there are just 50 bettors with a winning ticket.  The total prize pool is $100,000.  The winning tickets share that prize pool, and each bettor takes home $2,000.  In reality, the bookmakers (or the government) always take a piece of the pie, so you won't end up with $2000.  The fees and/or taxes for placing your wager must always be considered, as well.

How to use quinella bets in your horse race betting strategy

We're not here to tell you what to do.  However, we are here to inform you so you can make the right decision.  There are tons of sites that recommend several strategies, but we like to leave the real choices to the bettors.  It's on you to pick your battles and to do it with a thoughtful and clear mind.  However, we do have a short list of tips that we want to share.

Never forget to do your research
It's essential to read up on the contenders for each race.  If you're not aware of their previous results, or their current form, don't bet.  You can simply wait for better opportunities.  Don't risk hard-earned money by making wagers with a low level of confidence.

Know who's losing
Each race has a favorite, while some horses are merely filling up the lanes.  Such also-rans don’t stand a chance against the other horses, but they are in the field, anyway.  When creating a quinella box or a quinella wheel, you can leave out the losers to save you some costs.  Why bet on a horse if you're confident it won't finish among the top two?

Keep an eye on your money
When you're in the stands, adrenaline and excitement can get to you.  You might place an extra bet here, and double-up with another bet there.  But be careful.  Don't go rogue betting on too many horses, as you have to keep your bankroll healthy.  With each bet, consider your options and always follow the holy rule:  never bet more than you're able to lose.

This betting guide discussed quinella betting in a nutshell.  We can draw up hundreds of other scenarios and provide you with a lot more examples, but it's on you to take matters into your own hands.  Find yourself a race book and start wagering.  One great option is BetAnySports, which offers 10% bonus payouts on winnings at major tracks, as well as a 9% rebate on losing tickets.  And another trusted race book is GTBets, which offers a very customer-friendly 15% rebate on monthly losses.  The more you practice, the better you'll get!

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

© 2021 Al McMordie's BigAl.com. All Rights Reserved.