10/19/2009 3:26PM

A $154k Miss


If you played the late pick-4 at Belmont Park Saturday, you made a great bet whether or not you won: The pool was one of the very rare positive-expectation propositions in parimutuel wagering, with the track paying out more than it took in due to a huge miss on its $350,000 guarantee for the pool.


Because of the guarantee, Belmont had to pay out 74 percent (after 26 percent takeout) of $350,000, or $259,000, even though only $196,087 was actually wagered on Saturday, NYRA's biggest miss on a guaranteed pool. You could blame it on the miserably cold and rainy weather, but NYRA really has only itself to fault for offering such an ill-conceived and unappealing sequence.

First, it carded four grass races for Saturday, two of them in the pick-4 sequence, even though it didn't take Saturday entries until Thursday, by which time everyone knew that storms were coming and NYRA itself had postponed Saturday's Athenia Handicap until Wednesday. How did they think they were going to run four grass races, and why put two of them in a guaranteed-pool sequence?

Then it took the only race on the card with fist-time starters and made it the last race of the day. Of the 10 places on the card it put this race, that was the very worst choice, since it put people playing the final pick-3 as well as the guaranteed pick-4 and the pick-6 completely in the dark. Everyone understands that if it's Saratoga and there are four firster-laden maiden races on the card, some blindness in the multirace bets is unavoidable, but that was not the case with Saturday's card.

Customers repeatedly complain about this misguided practice, and it won't happen for a couple of weeks, but then you get a situation like last Saturday and it begins to look like a deliberate thing despite track officials' denials. If someone in the racing office thinks he's being a good employee by trying to create pick-6 carryovers this way, it backfired badly Saturday, costing NYRA more money than it would have made if there had been a carryover -- not to mention alienating customers who clearly bet elsewhere or not at all.

Those who did play were paid nicely since the track paid out $259,000 instead of the $145,104 it would have paid out without the guarantee. Winners paying $3.90, $10.20, $6.70 and $4.90 combined for a $391 payoff, more than double the $163 parlay. And instead of the pick-6 carryover NYRA was trying to create by concealing relevant information from customers, the payoff for 6 of 6 was $892.

--William Hill, the British bookmaking firm that posted lines for nine of the Breeders' Cup races last week, today released its first lines for the two main-track 2-year-old races:

Breeders' Cup Juvenile: 2-1 Lookin At Lucky, 4-1 D'Funnybone, 8-1 Dave In Dixie, Homeboykris, Pulsion, 10-1 Noble's Promise, 12-1 Aikenite, Dublin, 14-1 Aspire, Gallant Gent, Western Smoke, 16-1 Smiling Tiger, 20-1Make Music For Me, Backtalk

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies': 9-2 Blind Luck, 5-1 Hot Dixie Chick, Mi Sueno, 7-1 Awesome Maria, She Be Wild, 8-1 Negligee, 10-1 Beautician, Devil May Care, 12-1 Always a Princess, Jealous Again, 14-1 Amen Hallelujah, La Nez, 16-1 Midst, Pure Class, Softly Singing, Worship the Moon, 20-1 Bickersons, Biofuel, Touching Beauty

The firm also noted the following "Market Moves" since last week:

Breeders' Cup Turf: Presious Passion 7-1 from 8-1

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare: Lahaleeb 12-1 (inserted), Pure Clan 12-1 from 16-1, Criticism 25-1 from 33-1, Moneycan'tbuymelove 20-1 from 12-1

Breeders' Cup Mile: Gladiatorus 10-1 (inserted)

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint: Field Commision 7-1 (inserted), Gotta Have Her 8-1 (inserted)

Breeders' Cup Sprint: Gayego 6-1 from 8-1, Not for Silver 20-1 from 33-1

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: Quality Road 5-1 (inserted - new fav), Midshipman 8-1 (inserted), Girolamo 14-1 (inserted)