Wagering Tips: The Pick 3
Handicapping the 1999 Breeders Cup
BRIS has announced the availability of archived ALL-Ways software race card datafiles and corresponding Exotic Results Datafiles for all tracks BRIS covers. These datafiles date all the way back into 1998. So, now it is possible for ALL-Ways software handicappers to rapidly build ALL-Ways Race Databases for the tracks they want to play. There is a charge for this service. Check with the BRIS or Frandsen Publishing Web site for details.
Version 8.0 of ALL-Ways software will be available in December 1999. Watch the BRIS and Frandsen Publishing Web sites for details. Notices will be mailed to Professional Edition users.
This issue of the ALL-Ways Newsletter is devoted primarily to two subjects, specifically, playing the Pick 3 and the 1999 Breeders Cup. We lead off with the Pick 3. As you read the Pick 3 article, keep in mind that the race card for Breeders Cup day at Gulfstream Park includes eight Pick 3 wagering opportunities.
Playing the Pick 3
Pick up just about any book or essay on the subject of wagering on horse races and chances are pretty high the author will tell you the Pick 3 is a great wager. We feel the same way. It is indeed a great wager ... if it is played properly. There are some realities about playing the Pick 3 that the general public just does not understand. This is, of course, good news for the serious player. This gives us the opportunity to craft our Pick 3 wagers to take advantage of these realities, giving us a significant edge over the public. In this article, we will briefly cover the reasons why the Pick 3 is a good wager, we will expose the realities missed by the public and then we will show you the very best way we know to play the Pick 3.
Why the Pick 3 is a Good Wager
In our July 1998 Newsletter, we explained, in some detail, why the Daily Double is such a good wager. Well, all the same reasons apply to the Pick 3. So, we will be brief. (If you contact us, we will be pleased to send you back issues of our Newsletters.) The Pick 3 is, far more often than not, a solid overlay wagering opportunity because it generally pays a good deal more than a straight three-race win Parlay (making a win bet in each race and letting your payoffs ride). This is because the track takeout and breakage apply just once to the Pick 3 wager as opposed to three times, once for each race making up the Pick 3. Another reason the Pick 3 is so good is because the public simply misplays the wager. The public tends to play a 3 x 3 x 3 criss-cross and they tend to wager too much on legitimate favorites. As you will see, this is a blueprint for failure.
Another reason we like this wager so much is because there are so many opportunities to play it. The rolling Pick 3 that started in California is now being picked up by many tracks across the country. This means there are often six to eight Pick 3 wagering opportunities on a single race card. Even if your home track does not yet offer the rolling Pick 3, you can still play the wager via simulcasts. And ALL-Ways software gives you all the information you need to play simulcast races as well as you play races at your home track.
Realities About the Pick 3
We promise that before the end of this article, we will show you a way to play the Pick 3 that really works. But, to understand this method, you must first understand the realities of the wager.
Reality #1: You will not win this wager as often as you think or as often as you would like.
For individual races, if you are allowed to bet on legitimate favorites, and if you bet one horse to win, you will probably achieve around 35 percent winners. If you play two horses, this should go up to 55 to 60 percent. Playing three horses to win should get you up to the range of 65 to 70 percent. However, we will make the point later that you should avoid playing legitimate favorites as much as possible when playing the Pick 3. This will cause your win percentages to go down to something like those shown below.
Bet on 1 horse
Bet on 2 horses 50% wins
Bet on 3 horses 60% wins
These figures will, of course, vary by individual handicapper. But they are within reason for our purposes.
Lets see what these figures translate into in terms of how often you would win a Pick 3 wager. To determine the percentage probability of winning the Pick 3 , simply multiply the probabilities for each race. For example, if you make a straight 1 x 1 x 1 wager (one horse in each leg of the Pick 3), your probability of winning would be 30% x 30% x 30%. This calculates to a 2.7% chance of winning the bet. Note that even if you were to magically pick winners at a 40% clip, a one horse per race wager would have you winning the Pick 3 only 6.4% of the time. Here are some more examples:
x 2 x 2 = 50% x 50% x 50% = 12.5% wins
2 x 3 x 3 = 50% x 60% x 60% = 18.0% wins
3 x 3 x 3 = 60% x 60% x 60% = 21.6% wins
Another way to state the same thing is that if you bet one horse per race you will win about 1 in 37 tries. Betting two horses in each race will yield 1 win in 8 tries and three horses in each race will yield a little better than 1 win in 5.
Reality #2: You will need to play multiple horse combinations if you expect to play the Pick 3 profitably.
If you are going to play the Pick 3 successfully, you must be prepared to spend some decent money on the wager and cover multiple horse combinations. Personally, for a $2 Pick 3, we believe you need to be prepared to spend at least $54 ($27 for a $1 Pick 3). The discussion above on the probabilities of winning builds a pretty good case by itself. But consider this as well. If you win at a 20% clip which is about what you achieve with a 3 x 3 x 3 wager, statistically, your bankroll must be able to stand a string of 20 consecutive losses. At a 12.5% clip, statistically, you must be able to handle a string of 40 consecutive losses. The smaller your wager, the less chance you have of winning and the more likely you are to tap out your bankroll. If you are not comfortable with this size wager, you are better off going partners with someone else and owning a share of a larger ticket than to under bet this wager.
Reality #3: You cannot profitably play the Pick 3 by betting on favorites.
For a $2 Pick 3, a 3 x 3 x 3 wager will cost you $54 and you will win it, on average, once every 4.6 wagers. So, to break even with this wager, you need a payoff of 4.6 x $54 which is $250. For the risk we take and the patience we must have with the Pick 3, we are looking for at least a 50% premium. This means we must receive an average payoff in the range of $375.
The good news is that this kind of average payoff is readily available with the Pick 3 provided, however, that favorites win no more than one of the three races. In his excellent book Commonsense Betting, Dick Mitchell presented a study of Pick 3 payoffs at Santa Anita. Take a look at the chart below which shows average payoffs at Santa Anita for $2 Pick 3s.
of All Excluding
Favorites Payoffs Large
0 $1,768 $567
1 $641 $353
2 $119 $119
3 $31 $31
The chart makes it clear that you must be very selective with the Pick 3 opportunities you decide to play. You should be confident that you understand each leg and that you have spotted non- favorites with real chances of winning at least two of the legs. This is not as difficult as it may seem. Remember, non- favorites win about two thirds of all races.
Earlier, we stated how much we like the rolling Pick 3 format because it gives us six to eight Pick 3s on a race card. We like this not because we actually will play all the Pick 3s, but because we can be very selective and still get two or three plays on a typical card.
The Best Way We Know to Play the Pick 3
As promised, we have reached the point where we will show you our recommended method for playing the Pick 3. First, here is a reminder. The crowd typically bets a 3 x 3 x 3 criss - cross. This costs $54 for a $2 wager and wins, on average, about 21.6% of the time.
First, we examine each leg of the Pick 3 to make sure there is a vulnerable favorite in at least two legs. Second, we identify one horse in each of the three races that we believe has the best chance of winning. This is our Key Horse and is designated below as the "A" horse. Then we purchase three separate tickets crafted as follows:
To win this wager, at least one of our Key Horses must win its race. Remember, the Key Horse must not be the favorite in more than one of the races. Preferably, the key horse will not be the favorite in any race. Each ticket, based on a $2 wager, costs $18 for a total wager of $54.
This set of tickets excludes the BC BC BC combinations. The odds of one of these combinations winning are only 2.7%. So, the probability of winning this wager is the same as the criss - cross wager less 2.7%. This makes the probability of winning this wager 18.9%.
Here is why this is such a good approach. The wager costs us the same as a 3 x 3 x 3 criss - cross ($54). Our probability of winning is 18.9%, just slightly less than the 21.6% probability for the 3 x 3 x 3 criss - cross. But, the 3 x 3 x 3 criss - cross can win the wager only once. In our case, we can actually win the wager once, twice and even three times depending on how many of the races are won by our Key Horse. Another way to look at it is that we have bet more money on the most likely winning combinations and less money on the least likely winning combinations. This is always a good way to wager. And, again because we will win the wager more than one time on many occasions, our break even payoff and premium payoff requirements are actually lower than the 3 X 3 x 3 criss - cross wager. In essence, we are giving up the 2.7% chance of winning the 3 x 3 x 3 criss - cross, which works out to 1 in every 37 wagers, in favor of gaining the opportunity to win the wager three times every time we make the wager.
There certainly are legitimate variations to this approach. For example, there may be times when you want to play four horses in a particular race or where you can limit your bet to 2 horses in a particular leg. These wagers might look something like this:
Notice that there are some constants here. There is a key horse in every race and you have the chance to win the Pick 3 three times.
1. Select Pick 3 sequences of races where you believe it is likely that favorites will not win at least two of the races.
2. Identify a Key Horse in each race. This is the horse that you believe has the best chance of winning. Remember, your Key Horse in at least two of the races must not be the favorite.
3. Pass the wager if you are not reasonably confident of your handicapping. You should feel like you have a real handle on what is likely to happen in all three races.
4. Create three separate Pick 3 tickets, one each with a Key Horse singled in each leg as we have illustrated earlier.
This really is a great wager. Why not give it a try at this years Breeders Cup?
A day with the best horses, the best trainers, the best jockeys, the biggest purses, races that lend themselves to good handicapping, some really nice payoffs. Wow! It is Breeders Cup time again. This years Breeders Cup will be run on November 6th at Gulfstream Park in Florida. And the folks at Gulfstream have put together an absolutely great three days of racing beginning on Friday November 5th and ending on Sunday after the Breeders Cup.
Some Changes in 1999
With the addition of the new Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the Breeders Cup (BC) now consists of eight races as opposed to just seven races in years past. The new race is for fillies and mares 3 years and older at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. The purse is $1 million. So, total purse money for the BC races is now at $13 million.
The day starts with two undercard races. Race #1 is the $100,000 Sunday Silence Stakes for 3 year olds and up at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. Race #2 is the $100,000 Eliza Stakes for 2 year old fillies at 6 furlongs on the dirt. The actual order of the BC races has changed too. Here is what the full card looks like for BC day. Note that an Exacta and a Trifecta are offered for every race. The other wagers are shown below.
2 The Eliza
3 BC Distaff
4 BC Juvenile Fillies
5 BC Mile
6 BC Sprint
7 BC Filly & Mare Turf
8 BC Juvenile
9 BC Turf
10 BC Classic
There are 3 Daily Doubles (DD), 8 Pick 3s (P3) and 5 Superfectas. The Pick 6 starts with the BC Mile. Each BC race has a purse of $1 Million except for the $2 million BC Distaff, the $2 million BC Turf and the $4 million BC Classic.
The card on Friday, November 5th includes 10 races as does the card on Sunday, November 7th. These 20 races plus the two undercard races on Breeders Cup day have total purse money of $2,425,000. Seems like good candidate for a wonderful 3 day weekend of handicapping.
Analyzing Gulfstream Park
Now we are going to take a close look at Gulfstream Park.
We will look at track bias statistics and then, using the Analysis Module in ALL-Ways software, we will look at which of ALL-Ways softwares 71 key handicapping factors have the highest Impact Values (IVs). Remember, an IV of 1.0 means that horses ranked first in a race for this factor win just their fair share of races, no more and no less. An IV above 1.0 indicates horses ranked first win more than their fair share of races. For example, an IV of 2.2 means that horses ranked first win, on average, 2.2 times their fair share of races. An IV of 2.0 or higher is considered to be very strong.
The Impact Value Analysis also shows us how profitable each factor has been in terms of the return on each $2 bet. A return of $2.40 means that if we had bet $2.00 in every race on the horses ranked first for the factor, we would have won $2.40 for each $2.00 wagered. This is an average profit of 40 cents for an average return on investment of 20 percent.
The Impact Value Analysis was restricted to just very high caliber races run at Gulfstream. We had a very large database (over 2000 races), so we had plenty of races to analyze. Note that this analysis can be applied to every race run at Gulfstream during the entire three day Breeders Cup weekend.
Gulfstream favors early runners in dirt sprints with about 70% of races won by Early (E) and Early Presser (EP) horses.Sustainer horses (S), the deep closers, have a dismally low Impact Value of only 0.39. They are at a real disadvantage at Gulfstream in dirt sprints.
Here are the most powerful and the most profitable ALL-Ways Handicapping Factors for high caliber dirt sprints run at Gulfstream.
|Hall Speed Last||1.85||$2.06|
|First Call Position||1.80||$3.31|
|Hall Early Pace 2/3||1.77||$2.69|
*The 2/3 designation indicates this is an average for the horses best 2 out of its last 3 races.
As expected, horses do well in high caliber dirt sprints at Gulfstream if they are on or near the lead at the First Call (the 2 furlong mark) and if they have a good Early Pace Rating which is measured at the Second Call (the 4 furlong mark).
The BC Sprint tends to produce lots of upsets and big payoffs. This is due to the fact that The BC Sprint almost always has a tremendous amount of early speed. The races have, in the past, often set up for high priced closers. So, we also ran an Impact Value Analysis that was restricted to only high caliber dirt sprints with a Race Pace Shape of EEE. These are races with three or more E horses. Look at these running style bias figures.
E EP P S
1.57 0.68 0.43 0.40
The results really surprised us. Normally, because of all the early speed, we would expect to see Impact Values increase for P and S horses. But, in this case, it did not happen. What this tells us is that dirt sprint races at Gulfstream with a lot of early speed favor the very best of the best E horses. This is an important piece of information.
Breeders Cup dirt routes include the BC Juvenile at 1 1/16 mile, the BC Juvenile Fillies at 1 1/16 mile, the BC Distaff at 1 1/8 mile and the BC Classic at 1 1/4 mile. The two juvenile races and the Distaff tend not to yield many surprises. The winners have been very predictable resulting in modest payoffs. The BC Classic, on the other hand, yields its share of high priced winners.
Here are the Impact Values for the different running styles.
E EP P S
1.20 1.17 0.76 0.86
Here are the most powerful and profitable ALL-Ways Handicapping Factors.
|Avg. Competitive Level||2.97||$2.39|
|BRIS Speed 2/3||2.53||$2.18|
|Hall Early Pace 2/3||1.94||$2.00|
|BRIS Combined 2/3*||2.19||$2.08|
The Combined Rating is a compound pace rating of Early Pace plus Final Fraction Pace.
The somewhat low ROI figures imply that high caliber dirt routes at Gulfstream tend to run true to form and do not yield a lot of surprises. We also found a very useful factor to help you eliminate non-contenders. Horses that are not ranked 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the Comprehensive Rating have very low Impact Values of 0.37 to 0.46.
The Breeders Cup turf races are the BC Mile at (surprise) one mile, the BC Turf at 1 1/2 miles and the new BC Fillies and Mare Turf at 1 3/8 miles.
Watch out for horses shipping in from Europe for these races. Also, the BC Turf tends to produce a lot of upsets and some very high priced winners.
Here comes another particularly important piece of information. As you would expect, the running style bias for all turf routes at Gulfstream shift to being slightly in favor of horses coming from off the pace, particularly Presser (P) horses. However, when we restrict the analysis to only high caliber races, the advantage stays with E and EP horses as shown below.
E EP P S
1.30 1.04 0.77 0.99
Here are the best Handicapping Factors
Factor IV ROI
Scott PCR 2.49 $2.67
Hall Speed Last 2.29 $2.57
First Call Position 2.10 $2.54
Hall Combined 2/3 2.36 $2.99
Brohamer SP 1.86 $2.33
Scott PCR is William Scotts Performance Class Rating, a measure of a horses competitive level. The Brohamer SP Rating measures the horses Sustained Pace throughout the race but gives slightly more weight to the horses early pace capability.
Some BC Odds-N-Ends
If he has any horses entered in BC races, watch out for trainer Andre Fabre horses coming in from Europe. They will most likely run well.
In the BC Mile, watch out for Da Hoss. He will be lightly raced again this year as he was last year when he won paying $25.20. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
The European Time Form Ratings that BRIS will make available for the Breeders Cup are a very useful handicapping tool, particular for the three Breeders Cup turf races.
ALL-Ways software includes extensive Class Ratings for European horses as well as North American runners.
Consider reading the Breeders Cup article in ALL-Ways Newsletter #11 dated October 1998. There is quite a bit of detail about each individual Breeders Cup race that may be helpful for this years BC. Just contact us if you would like us to send you a copy of any or all our past newsletters.
If you are not now an ALL-Ways software user, you may want to get the software from BRIS just for the Breeders Cup. Without learning all about the software, you can simply print out the All Factors Report that shows, on a single page, side-by-side ratings of every horse for all 71 Key Handicapping Factors.
Frandsen Publishing will post special Breeders Cup ALL-Ways Handicapping Profiles on our Web site. ALL-Ways software users can download these profiles and use them to handicap all the races run at Gulfstream for the 3-day Breeders Cup weekend.
We wish you a profitable and fun filled day on November 6th!
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