It’s fine to spread in doubles against the favorite, and it’s OK to take a stand with the favorite, but either way you should have an opinion. Using multiple horses in both legs and including both favorites is guaranteed to be making some negative expectation bets, and even with TwinSpires.com’s generous 20% bonus on double returns, that negative expectation will eat away at your bankroll over time even when you’re “right” (i.e. cash a ticket).
This week’s doubles involve race 10 on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs: The Sam F. Davis Stakes, which offers 17 points (10 to the winner) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. The action kicks off with Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes and concludes with Tampa Bay Stakes featuring the return of champion Breeders’ Cup Mile winner World Approval.
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As far as all -graded stakes Pick 3s go, this might be one of the chalkiest of all time with Dona Bruja and La Coronel figuring to have at least 75% of the win pool in the Endeavour, Catholic Boy the obvious favorite in the Sam F. Davis, and World Approval flirting with 1-to-20 in the Tampa Bay.
This is an extreme case of the either-or example. Going 4×4 in either double with such a big potential to catch payoffs of $4-$5 does you no good even with the 20% bonus. Are there any alternatives to these four favorites? For the purpose of this bet, my answer is no. For $6 you can go 2×1 and 1×1 in the doubles. I expect the double ending with Catholic Boy to pay $8 and the double ending with World Approval to pay $3. That’s $11 gross and $13.20 net after the 20% double bonus.
Could a $3 Pick 3 with those same horses for the same amount pay better? The $1 Pick 3 would probably pay about $4, which is $12 for $3. So not only is the double with bonus better outright, but there’s the added equity of getting some money back even if you’re wrong about race 9 or 11.