For the second time in three years the Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream attracted a massive amount of wagering handle at the end of the meet due to the mandatory payout rule.
For the second time in three years the Rainbow Pick 6, despite the huge pool size, paid very little.
Similarly the Black Gold Pick 5 at Fairgrounds attracted a lot of wagering handle on the final day of the meet this year and just like the Rainbow Pick 6 had a disappointingly low return.
These are just the most recent examples of why jackpot wagers are bad for horse racing.
Rainbow Pick 6
In 2011 the Rainbow Pick 6 had a mandatory payout on the second to last day of the meet.
The pool swelled to nearly $5.1 million as many horseplayers took their shot at what they thought would be a life-changing score.
Unfortunately the sequence was fairly formful with two favorites, two second choices and one third choice winning the first five legs and a 10/1 shot winning the finale.
The resulting payout was a meager $3,279.
Not a bad return considering the results but nothing close to the life-changing score many had hoped for.
Flash forward two years and the same scenario played out.
The Rainbow Pick 6 pool swelled to nearly $5.3 million despite the off track and scratch-laden off the turf races.
The sequence was again very formful with two favorites, three second choices and 6/1 winner in the other leg.
The resulting payout was only $4,234.
Again not a bad return considering the results but again no life-changing score for the thousands that bet into the pool.
Black Gold Pick 5
The Black Gold Pick 5 at Fairgrounds did not attract nearly as much wagering handle as the Rainbow Pick 6 and surely that was caused by the mind-boggling decision to closeout the meet on Easter Sunday.
Most tracks were not open and many horseplayers were probably spending time with their family and friends.
Despite these circumstances the pool nearly doubled in size to over $800,000.
Two favorites and three other logical horses won and the resulting payout was $5,578.
Once again a decent return considering the results but once again no life-changing score.
Coincidence or Not?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that these two bets have failed to produce monstrous payouts when the mandatory payout rule was in play.
There are several reasons for this, namely:
- the low minimum wagering amount ($0.10 for the Rainbow Pick 6 and $0.50 for the Black Gold Pick 5)
- the attraction of higher bankrolled horseplayers who can cover all the possible combinations
- the players pools, such as the one offered by TwinSpires (which put in $100,000 worth of tickets)
Add to that a formful sequence, which obviously is not a guarantee, and the resulting payout will likely never be life-changing.
But What About…
Critics of my opinion will likely point to the handful of actual life-changing returns, such as the $3.6 million return in February of this year for the Rainbow Pick 6.
My response to that is in order to cash a ticket like that you have to:
- pick illogical horses that no one else would consider and that you wouldn’t normally use in any other wager
- be extremely lucky that those long shots win and no one else has them covered
- have a large bankroll to cover all the impossible long shots in the sequence
To me that is a formula for failure when betting on horses.
In the above example the sequence consisted of:
- 56/1 winner ridden by a jockey that had zero lifetime wins
- 9/2 winner ridden by Joel Rosario
- 17/1 winner ridden by a low percentage bug boy
- 7/1 winner ridden by Jose Lezcano
- 10/1 winner ridden by Luis Contreras, who was having a terrible meet
- 10/1 winner ridden by Paco Lopez
Not a single favorite in the sequence and two nearly impossible horses to come up with.
It’s not surprising the lone winning ticket cost over $3,000.
An Actual Life-Changing Score for the Average Horseplayer
About two years ago I spent a month creating a road map for the future of Maryland horse racing.
I sent the presentation to every one in the industry and not surprisingly only one person replied and said they would look at it.
(If you are interested you can view the presentation here: Maryland Racing Plan)
Oddly enough some of the changes I suggested have occurred, such as moving certain stakes races, but that could just be a coincidence.
For the purposes of this discussion the one part of that presentation that is relevant is a new bet I called (although now I wish I would have suggested a better name) the Jackpot 8.
You can find that on slide 25 of the above presentation but the gist of it is a Pick 8, with a low takeout (8%) and low minimum wager amount ($0.05) that pays out to anyone that selects all eight winners and pays consolations to those that select seven of eight winners.
If no one hits it 75% of the pool carries over to the next day and the other 25% is paid to those with the most winners.
It is similar to the Rainbow Pick 6 and Black Gold Pick 5 but the one big difference is there doesn’t need to be a single winning combination to trigger a payout.
It’s basically a Pick 6 for the small guy that also would appeal to the big guys as well if the bet wasn’t hit for a few days.
Is it a perfect solution?
No, but at least it doesn’t have the ridiculous stipulation that only a single winning combination triggers a payout.
Over To You
I don’t think my opinion is in the minority regarding the current jackpot wagers.
They favor big bankrolls but are advertised as a way for the average horseplayer to make a big score, which obviously is not the case.
So my questions are do you agree with my assessment?
Do you bet either of the two jackpot wagers mentioned above on or regularly basis or only when the pool is huge or a mandatory payout is in effect?
What do you think about my presentation and the poorly named Jackpot 8?
Let me know in the comments below and please share this with anyone that might find this post interesting using the sharing options below.
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Creative Commons photo courtesy of baldur mcqueen