The Wise Dan Pick 4 conundrum: When even money on 2-to-5 isn't worth it
This scene from The Simpsons came to mind when considering whether to single Wise Dan in the $200,000 guaranteed Pick 4 on Sunday at Woodbine, or go against him in the Ricoh Woodbine Mile.
Seeing the reigning Horse of the Year win his ninth consecutive race would "please the gentleman" as the shopkeep says in the video above, but he would do so at no more than his morning line odds of 2-to-5 and maybe even at 1-to-5, and as Homer J. says, "That's bad."
But realistically speaking, Wise Dan has a 75%-80% chance of winning, which actually represents value at 2-to-5, and that's good, but I think he'll be used on more than 80% of people's Pick 4 tickets, and that's bad.
As you can probably tell by now, I've decided to try to leverage Wise Dan as a single who wins 75%-80% of the time rather than take 3- or 4-to-1 on him losing. I work through the math of that decision and the ticket I'm playing in a Pick 4 analysis I did for Brisnet.com & Woodbine. You can get that (as well as Spotlight Selections from Mark Johnson) for FREE by CLICKING HERE.
If you're reading this, I'm assuming you already have at least a little racing/handicapping knowledge, so I won't insult that by telling you why Wise Dan is the obvious choice, but it is worth noting just how much better he looks on paper than his rivals.
Wise Dan's 21.8-point Prime Power advantage over Za Approval is among the largest gaps I've seen. I don't have numbers for that high, but horses with a 10-point advantage win more than half the time. We don't have a Prime Power figure for import Trade Storm, but his Class Ratings tell us that he's closer in ability to Wise Dan (.7 off his average last three races) than Za Approval (1.1 points better). With Class Ratings 1 point is a lot, so Wise Dan has a comfortable advantage, but if I were playing anyone against Wise Dan I'd be looking for at least 6-to-1 on Trade Storm, and as crazy as this is going to sound, a $8 straight exacta (for $2) on those two I don't think would be taking the worst of it.
Forte de Marmi is the other big favorite in that $200,000 guaranteed Pick 4 sequence, and I'd much rather beat him than Wise Dan, and I will try to do so with IRISH MISSION, who is the only horse in the field besides Forte de Marmi to earn a triple digit Brisnet.com Speed Rating in victory.
That italicized caveat is important to me in this race because Irish Mission's only chance to win will be on the front end, so he's absolutely going to have to go as fast as can as far as he can, and 12-to-1 is a fair price on that prospect.
Wise Dan certainly doesn't help add value to the Pick 4, but even if you think of it as a Pick 3, how exciting would it be to start a Pick 3 with a $20 horse beating an even money shot. Real exciting, I tell you. This exciting.
Speaking of exciting, the stakes action begins Saturday at Woodbine with a pair of Win & You're In races for Breeders' Cup juvenile turf events: The Natalma for males and the Summer for females.
Triple Crown Insider took time out of its busy Keeneland September yearling sale to discuss the current two-year-old landscape with a focus on more main track types, but touched on the Woodbine races as well.