Friday, April 22, 2011

Playing the Rainbow Six

Because we don't bet a ton of money when we go to the track, we're not big Pick Six players. For the uninitiated, here's a rundown of the Pick Six wager:
  • You have to pick the winners of six races in a row; ergo, the name.
  • Normally, the bet has a $2 minimum. This is the killer. Let's say you pick two horses every race in your sequence, meaning your ticket is "2x2x2x2x2x2". That ticket would cost you $128: 64 combinations at $2 each. And as you can guess, that does not give you a ton of coverage.
  • Most Pick Sixes take their kitty and split it into two portions: the 6/6 portion, and the "consolation portion". (Usually the split is 75/25 after the takeout.) If nobody picks 6 of 6, that portion "carries over" to the next day, while the consolation pool is always paid out to either 5 of 6 or if nobody did that well, 4 of 6.
What ends up happening in the Pick Six is that the pool builds, making it a positive expectation wager. For example, if $50,000 (after takeout) is in the kitty after the first day and nobody hits 6 of 6, $37,500 enters the pool on the next day. If another $200,000 is bet the following day (again, after takeout) and nobody hits again, the 75% from that pool is added to the previous day carryover, and we get a 2-day carryover of $187,500. This becomes free money in the pot for everyone who takes a shot on the third day, beats the takeout, and leads to inflated payouts.

The problem remains though: it's a tough wager if you're not heavily bankrolled. In a Pick Six sequence where there are 8 horses in every race, there are 262,144 combinations. Does your $128 with 64 combinations really stand a chance? Generally no. Which is why the Pick Six is usually for whales only.

Until Saturday at Gulfstream Park. This year, to try to raise the play of its Pick Six pool (which usually flags outside of California and NY), Gulfstream created the Rainbow Six. It's a Pick Six with three important changes:
  • The minimum wager is a dime. Yes, a dime.
  • The kitty is divided 60/40, with 60 percent payable every day to whoever picks the most right, be it 6/6, 5/6 or even 4/6.
  • The remaining 40% goes into a pool that only pays out when there is one winning Pick Six ticket. If there are zero or more than one, it carries over to the next day.
It is not easy to be the only person to hit the Pick Six. Usually, either a few people hit it or nobody does. And shockingly, the super pot in the Rainbow Six hasn't been hit too often, and hasn't been hit since February 16th, resulting in a carryover that as of this morning was over $1.3 million, and if nobody hits it on today (Friday), Saturday's pool should be over $1.4 million.

What makes Saturday important is the fact that it's the last day of the Gulfstream meet. (Technically Sunday is, but they've made Saturday the "last day" for Pick Six purposes because Sunday is Easter.) And by rule, the entire Pick Six pool must be dispersed on the last day. Which means that all of the $1.4 million plus whatever is bet on Saturday will be paid out on Saturday.

Now this is nothing new--seasoned horse players know to always pay attention to the last day of the meet to play the Pick Six because it's a payout day, and if there's a carryover, it will get extra attention. But the Rainbow Six is presenting a unique opportunity because there's $1.4 million already in the kitty and, most importantly, the minimum wager is a dime. Remember that hypothetical $128 ticket for taking two horses a race? That now costs $6.40. Hell, if you wanted to take 4 horses every race, that would cost $409.60. Under normal circumstances, that would run you over $8,100.

Also not hurting the cause is that every horse player in America is going to take a run at Saturday's Rainbow Six, meaning the final pool could be north of $4 million, a number we don't see unless it's the Breeders Cup. And also meaning that it's worth taking a run at it if you're a small player. If there are 15,000 winning tickets in a $4 million pool, each will be worth about $270. Why not take a shot for a small amount?

So let's take a brief discussion of the Rainbow Six and construct a Blog Ticket for under $100. We'll post the results on Sunday.

Race 7: Game On (8-5) is going to be on everyone's ticket, so he'll be on ours too. We'll take 3 more in this heat: Alice's Alex (12-1), who's going out for the first time with trainer Angel Medina; Marias Pass (4-1), who adds blinkers and looks to be about right at this level; and Rumbletown (10-1) who switches to the dirt for the first time. Choices: 3, 8, 10, 11

Race 8: Ah, turf sprint claimers, the bane of our existence. The key here we think is going against Nononthesamepage (3-1), who's going to be overbet based on his backclass and some great GSF's when he was a 2 year old on the dirt. No problem. Walt's Whiz (4-1) goes out for the hot Joe Orseno and has shown some affinity for the grass. Also hot are Peter Walder, who sends out Mipando (8-1) and David Fawkes, who has Wild Storm Cat (5-1) coming in off a long layoff. We can't see some of these longshots making noise, even in this bad a field. Choices: 3, 8, 9. (Note: if Mustang Island draws in, include him too.)

Race 9: A maiden special weight with tons of first time starters. We're willing to go two-deep here: heavy favorite Zero Rate Policy (8-5) and comebacker Christiesborntorun (5-1). Choices: 7, 9

Race 10: Performing (7-2) and Sovereign Crisis (4-1) strike us as bad favorites that you have to use in multi-race bets. So we'll go deep here, and include the foreign shipper Silver Rock (8-1), the fantastically named Duchess of Doom (20-1), potential lone speed More Is Better (10-1) and Ithinkihadthatone (6-1), who closed like a shot last time out. Choices: 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11

Race 11: Side with the hot trainers here: Nick Canani is winning 32% at the meet and saddles Hariolus (4-1), who should close late. We'll take him an Houngun (6-1), making his first start for Linda Rice after some ambitious placings last year. Choices: 2, 8

Race 12: A craptacular maiden claimer on the turf ends the sequence. In a race that has almost no early speed, we'll take a stab on Persistence (6-1), the stretching out Lotsa Noodles (20-1) and the almost intriguing Misia Luisa (5-1). Choices: 1, 3, 9

That ticket costs $86.40 and gets you 864 combinations. We'll be back on Sunday to see how we did.

1 comment:

El Angelo said...

Results: failed. But if you cashed 6 of 6 yesterday, you got over $3k. Not bad for a dime.