01/10/2011 9:33PM

Five Ways to End the Day at Gulfstream


The expanded multirace betting menu at Gulfstream Park this winter, including a newfangled 10-cent pick-6 and the addition of a 50-cent pick-5, lets you hook up the last 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2 races of the day.

Here's how popular each option was during the first week of the meeting, which opened last Wednesday:



The pick-4 remains the most popular of the late pick-x bets but the interesting figures to note are what happened last Thursday, the only day so far when there was a carryover in the new pick-5: A carryover of just $35,203 drove $123,889 in new handle, compared to non-carryover pick-5 pools of $55k and $73k on the preceding and following weekdays. That was also the only day that the late pick-4, which handled $98k, was not $115k or higher. Clearly, even a modest carryover moved players from the $1 pick-4 to the 50-cent pick-5 that day. It's an added race but the lower base bet keeps a player's cost the same if he goes two deep in the additional leg.

The new dime pick-6 averaged just $15k a day opening week, but it grew each day and could take off this coming week if it continues to carry. This wager is a completely different animal from the other pick-x bets and from the conventional pick-6 because the front end of the pool and the carryover are paid out only if there is a lone winner. If two or more people go 6-for-6, they share the consolation pool and it carries again.

This raises a number of fascinating strategic issues I have yet to resolve in my own mind; your thoughts are most welcome.

A conventional big-carryover approach of merely trying to "survive" a six-race sequence, singling heavy favorites and trying to get one or two interesting prices in along the way, being happy to be one of 20 or 50 winners, makes no sense: if successful, you'd be one of 20 or 50 people getting a small conso (sharing just 60 percent of that day's net pool, with none of the carryover paid out.) You're not going to get one of those $5k or $10k payouts that can happen when nothing longer than a 5-1 shot wins during the sequence.

Also, it seems that the worst thing you could ever do is to have it more than once or play it for more than a dime a combo. If the point is to be the sole winner, having it twice would appear to disqualify you from the jackpot.

Of course the dime minimum allows you to use a lot more horses than you normally would. A three-a-race caveman ticket that would cost you $1,536 in a $2 pick-six now costs just $72.90 for a dime.

It's way too early to assess the value offered in the bets so far, but here are the payouts so far at the meet in the pick-5 and pick-6. Remember that the pick-6 conso payouts below are based on a 10-cent bet and the pick-5 payouts are based on a 50-cent bet:


About to return to some horseplay(ing) after a holiday break, I'll be following the Gulfstream pick-5 and pick-6 this week and contemplating when to dive in. My initial thought is that any carryover in the pick-5 is worth a look, and maybe that pick-6 carryover will hit $100k by the time I get down there for a quick visit next Sunday the day before the Eclipse Awards. Whereas I might have bought 250 to 500 combos on a conventional $100k carryover, at a dime a pop I could buy 5,000 to 10,000 combos for the same $500 to $1,000.