Double trouble and other BC-inspired multi-race wagering observationsI already asked after last year's Breeders' Cup, "Is the daily double a bad bet?"
Philosophically the answer is the same, "it depends," but when five of 13 double combinations come back less than the corresponding win parlay it's fair to ask whether targeting the rolling doubles is a good use of a player's bankroll.
Friday was particularly frustrating for doubles players, as four of the five combos returned less than the parlay. Then on Saturday the marquee duo of Wise Dan and Fort Larned produced a $58.24 win parlay but only a $55.80 double.
The Pick 3s on Friday did not fare much better with the first three Breeders' Cup-only sequences involving the first five Breeders' Cup races each paying less than the parlay. Beholder capped a $1,469.20 payout that was a staggering 33.5% less than the parlay involving Calidoscopio at 17.2-to-1 and Flotilla at 11.4-to-1.
These results speak to my thought that --especially on big days--the cardinal ranking of a horse's odds is just as important as his win odds when assessing multi-race value. Calidoscopio at 17-to-1 and Flotilla at 11-to-1 look great on paper, but the former's win came in a race where many people were inclined to go deep, and the latter was one many would use with the favorite. Both led to a short field of Juvenile Fillies that was won by one of the few horses in the race who could win (even if she wasn't the favorite).
The best value throughout Breeders' Cup appeared to come in races involving the Turf where Little Mike was probably longer than his 17.3-to-1 win odds in multi-race exotics. He capped a Pick 3 that paid nearly twice the parlay and kicked off a Pick 4 that paid 44.1% more than the parlay even though the late Pick 3 and aforementioned late double both paid less than the parlay.
The Pick 4 remains best among Breeders' Cup wagering opportunities. Going back to 2006, it has never paid less than the corresponding parlay, and even Friday's sequence involving the Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies, Filly & Mare Turf, and Ladies' Classic overcame short prices elsewhere to post a 5.8% premium over the parlay.
Total handle on the two-day extravaganza dropped 9.5%, and while Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath were a big part of that, the wagering menu couldn't have helped with two Pick 4s on Friday covering five races, and of the only two Pick 4s on Saturday's 12-race card, just the late sequence used only Breeders' Cup races.
A) The early portion of Friday's ten-race card absolutely needed a Pick 4. Yes, there was the Pick 5 on races 1-5, but that only included two Breeders' Cup races. A "normal" SoCal card has the Player's Pick 5 then an early Pick 4 on races 2-5. I don't know why that couldn't have worked this weekend.
B) Saturday's program easily could have supported three, if not four, Pick 4 sequences. Having only two-all-BC Pick 4s on a card with nine Breeders' Cup races had to have hurt handle. The Juvenile was not part of a Pick 4, and that is definitely among the more popular races. Starting one with the Dirt Mile would have gotten a lot of action, and based on the win parlay of the four races involved would have paid at least $2,500 for $.50.
Wagering on horse racing is pari-mutuel in nature, and understanding these types of payouts is crucial to long-term success. It's just a shame we have to wait six months to put them in practice!