• is the Daily Double a bad bet?
    & other Breeders' Cup-inspired multiple-race wagering angles

    POSTED Nov 10, 2011
    As with most topics when discussing racing, the answer to the above question is, "It depends."

    Four of the 13 daily doubles from this year's Breeders' Cup World Championships paid less than the win parlay coupling the two winners. Only one of 11 pick 3s paid less than the corresponding win parlay, and none of the three pick 4s did so.

    Overall since 2006, the average Daily Double payoff has been just 17.53% more than the win parlay while the pick 3 has offered an average 37.4% premium, and the pick 4 a most robust 60.57% bonus while never paying less than the parlay.

    The chart below lists the winners of each Breeders' Cup race since 2006 and the multiple-race wagering payouts for those races. My biggest takeaway from these results is the power of a single--even a favorite. If you approach a sequence as looking value rather than necessarily looking for a big score then a key horse becomes paramount.

    Look at the first all-Breeders' Cup pick three on Friday. 2-to-5 favorite Secret Circle kicked off a pick 3 that returned $540.80 for $2. A win parlay using 6.1-to-1 Stephanie's Kitten and 20.2-to-1 Musical Romance came back $421.46, but what's even more fascinating to me is you could have bought that $1 pick 3 for $168 and gotten back $270.40 while $168 to win on Secret Circle would have returned only $235.20. A Secret Circle-ALL-ALL pick three paid more than just betting Secret Circle to win.

    It doesn't always work out that way, of course. An ALL-ALL-Court Vision $1 pick 3 paid less than $117 to win on the 64.8-to-1 bomb, but the takeaway there is that Court Vision was probably more overlooked in the win pool than he was in other wagers.

    The Pick 3s and pick 4s are especially potent with favorites, though. For $121 you could have played a $1 pick four using ALL with My Miss Aurelia with ALL with Royal Delta. A $121 win parlay on My Miss Aurelia to Royal Delta would have paid $1,200.32. The $1 pick four paid $11,714.40.

    Obviously all this is easier said than done. I'd have been feeling pretty smart about myself had Union Rags won, and I was alive to five horses in the Classic after using "ALL" in the Mile. Of course, Union Rags didn't win, and even if he had, I didn't have Drosselmeyer as one of my Classic horses.

    But dwelling on that is being results-oriented. The macro approach for big race days is that the tougher the bet the better the value. From a psychological perspective, the pull of the daily double is strong. You only need to get two races right, and you can turn that $6 winner into $50, but the premium is definitely on getting four races right and turning $6 into $5,000 or more. I.e., you're better off playing a $1 pick 4 going 1x5x5x5 than a $25 double going 1x5. Even if you're only even money to advance through each leg, the pick 4 is more likely to pay 15-to-1 on your total investment than the double is to pay 3-to-1.

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