The Horizontal Horse Player (10/28/14)

I think I first heard the word parlay when I was eight years old, my grandmother said it to one of her friends in her afternoon at the horsey-zoo with her grandson. Its definition is so pure, whether referring to sports betting or horse race wagering, parlay simply means take ­­the winnings from a bet and put it all on another bet.

In sports, hitting a two team parlay returns about 5:2 and a three team parlay closer to 6:1. Find me a sports bettor that has never made a parlay bet and I'll show you a horse player that has.

So why don't a lot of Breeders' Cup players bet parlays? For that answer, let's look first look at the total mutuel pool handle for the multi-race wagers from the Breeders' Cup over the last five years.

Saturday Double Pick 3 Pick 4 Pick 6
2013 (9 races) $2,833,005 $6,013,850 $5,850,209 $3,277,813
2012 (9 races) $2,814,128 $6,218,318 $5,195,791 $3,139,394
2011 (9 races) $2,725,008 $5,535,168 $5,079,102 $3,639,126
2010 (8 races) $3,140,167 $5,061,047 $5,267,383 $5,240,640
2009 (8 races) $2,201,895 $4,566,594 $3,909,703 $3,313,224

With Eight doubles (two horses in a row), Seven Pick 3's, Three Pick 4's and one Pick 6, there are at least two and as many as four of these types of wagers in each Breeders' Cup race. And with pools that range from $300k - $3mm per wager, the value is in the multi-race wagers and not the traditional parlay (in horse racing it is defined as bet one horse to win and if he/she wins “parlay” the winnings on one horse in the next race).

The graph below shows the multi-race payoffs as compared to the two dollar parlay over the course of the same races (Breeders' Cup Saturday, 2013).

Race Winner Win Price Double Double Parlay Pick 3 P3 Parlay Pick 4 P4 Parlay
Juvenile Fillies Ria Antonia $67
F&M Turf Dank $5 $269 $167
F&M Sprint Groupie Doll $8 $19 $20 $1,352 $666
Turf Sprint Mizdirection $7 $43 $30 $99 $74 $8,376 $2,464
Juvenile New Year's Day $23 $116 $85 $557 $340
Turf Magician $27 $314 $311 $1,378 $1,149
Sprint Secret Circle $7 $110 $95 $980 $1,087
Mile Wise Dan $4 $13 $13 $299 $170
Classic MuchoMachoMan $10 $19 $18 $76 $63 $1,526 $851

Of the seventeen multi-race wagering opportunities available, there were only two cases (see red) in which the parlay paid more than the multi-race bet. And, both of those parlay sets were only 10% higher than the double/pick 3 respectively.

The real betting value comes in the Pick 4 where the return is significantly greater than the four horse parlay. Over the last five years (since 2009), there have been 15 Pick 4's at the Breeders' Cup, and in only one instance has the four horse parlay ever paid more than the Pick 4.

Race Pick 4 P4 Parlay
Ladies' Classic '13 $1,616 $2,017
Turf Sprint $8,376 $2,464
Classic $1,526 $851
Ladies' Classic '12 $3,543 $3,347
Turf Sprint $7,031 $4,510
Classic $22,590 $15,667
Ladies' Classic '11 $23,429 $12,114
Dirt Mile $7,141 $5,773
Classic $187,256 $131,369
Ladies' Classic '10 $68,187 $39,886
Juvenile $2,199 $1,740
Classic $15,592 $10,485
Ladies' Classic '09 $4,267 $2,220
Juvenile $73,078 $24,866
Classic $1,504 $773

Even more interesting than the parlay comparison is the average Pick 4 Breeders' Cup payoff. Since 2009, the average Pick 4 return has been $28,490! Take away that Pick 4 in 2011 ending in the Classic that paid over $187k and the Pick 4 average is still over $16,000. Even harder to believe is that in every Pick 4 listed above, there was at least one favorite winner (with the exception of the $187k return). And with minimum bet size of .50 cents in the Pick 4, there is no barrier to entry for any horse player.

To determine Pick 4 ticket cost, take the number of horses in each race you want to play and multiply them. For example, 3 horses in each race is 3 x 3 x 3 x 3, 81 combinations x .50 cents is a $40.50 bet.

So we know where the value lies, and the way to calculate ticket cost, now all we need is a place to make your Breeders' Cup Pick 4 and of course, the winning horses. Visit Predicteform for that!


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