03/17/2008 10:21PM

Low Payoffs at Tampa?


A bunch of commenters and private e-mailers, not all of them certified wearers of tinfoil hats, think there's something amiss with the exotic payoffs on the Tampa Bay Derby. "Suspiciously low" is a phrase that recurs.

Were they low? Yes. Suspiciously so? Not necessarily.

With 0.05-1 War Pass finishing last, the $2 exacta of 7.20-1 Big Truck over 9.00-1 Atoned paid $66.20. If the two of them had been bet in the same proportions in the exacta pool that they were in the win pool, the exacta would have paid around $150.

The $2 trifecta adding 49.10-1 Dynamic Wayne in third paid $439.20. The payoff, again if the horses were bet the same way they were in the win pool, would have paid over $7,000. The $2 superfecta looks similarly very low at $1828.20 adding a 57.40-1 shot for fourth.

The question is whether the generally in-the-ballpark rule of assuming horses are being bet the same way in the win and exotic pools, and using their win odds to determine "shoulda-pays," applies in a race with a 1-20 shot. Those are so rare, and 1-20 shots finishing out of the money even rarer, that there's not a meaningful sample to analyze.

Is a 1-20 shot really on top of a similarly overhelming percentage of the exactas, tri and super combos sold? That seems very unlikely, given the number of people who box and wheel, not to mention the numbers-players and the born contrarians.

Also, you have to consider the ordinal rank of the horses as well as their win-pool odds. The 2-3-4-5 choices in the betting ran 1-2-3-4. Furthermore, this was an unusually-tiered race with the 2nd and 3rd choices being 7-1 and 9-1 and everyone else 49-1 or higher. Big Truck and Atoned were huge favorites to beat the rest of the field and clearly the only plausible alternatives to the favorite. If War Pass had been a gate scratch and there had been no further betting, here's what the odds would have looked like:

Big Truck 0.90-1
Atoned 1.40-1
Dynamic Wayne 12-1
Make Me Zach 14-1
Cigar Man 18-1
Gentlemen James 21-1

The race finished in precisely that order. At those win odds, the shoulda-pays would be about $6 on the exacta and $16 on the tri. Blow those up by 11x for getting War Pass out of the exacta and 26x for getting him out of the tri, and the payoffs don't seem so unusual or unreasonable.

Tokemeister More than 1 year ago
I had this triple and was literally speechless to get less than $500. I figured $1000 payoff at a minimum.
RichP More than 1 year ago
I do remember the it's in the air race. Was it really that lomg ago. I`was at Belmont for the race and happened to notice the show pools. I bet the winner in both the win and show pools and got something like 60.00 for the each for the $2 show tickets.
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
I should have had the triple if I was sober. Played the winning exacta, did not bother with the win pool. If you beleive WP was overbet, which I did, and was suspect at the distance, as I believed, then Big Truck/ Atoned/ All was a very logical bet that I am sure plenty of folks made.
C More than 1 year ago
I went through the math and found nothing unusual about the payoffs. Exacta: takeout=21.5%, pool=$331,690, $2 payout=$64.80. For simplicity, let's just assume everyone bet for $2. By my calculations, there were 165,845 $2 combos played and 4530 (~2.7%) were winners. Each of the 42 exacta combos would receive ~2.4% of the pool if they were bet in equal strength. Of course, that's not true. Most likely, the tickets involving War Pass were sold in lieu of all other combos, particularly combos like CigarMan-GentlemanJames and similar. Typically, the 2nd choice-3rd choice combo would receive much more action than the "fair share" 2.4%, so I'm actually surprised the exacta didn't pay even LESS! Triple: Same process (with 25.9% take) suggests ~0.3% of all $1 trifecta tickets sold were winners. I'll buy that too. Super: The whole pool was only $130K, and Tampa allows dime supers, making the interpretation a bit tougher, but if we forget about dimes and assume all combos were played for $1, the $914.10 payout suggests that ~0.08% of the combos sold were winners. You can't win more money than what's in the pool. I don't think these numbers are out of line at all. The mutuel pool (WPS) was almost double the exacta, tri, and super pools combined.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
I am going to be the first one to post that I will have War Pass in the Wood. I think he will be 3-5 and romp wire to wire. Been watching racing to long. And to all the people who are freaking out. Onion beat Secretariat. Nuff said. War Pass in the Wood! George In Lexington Ky.
aparagon4u More than 1 year ago
Steve, Two questions and a suggestion regarding Formulator: Q1. Why is there no synthetic surface data in the pp's? Q2. If I download a card through Formulator can I also download the same cards basic pdf files and have access to all the included links (post position data, etc.) without being charged for two cards? S1. A nice addition would be the ability to either highlight portions of the pp's with either a color or put a circle around it. An example would be putting a circle around the Beyers that are within 5 points of par for the level. I do this now but I have to print the pp's and circle the numbers myself, it would be easier to just be able to click the Beyer and have a circle appear around it. Thanks, Lenny
jcp More than 1 year ago
Zito does not seem to be making any excuses, although he could...the trip, the break, the fever, the ride or sometimes you just get beat, or maybe this horse is just not as good (now) as everyone thought...Steve, please give us your AQU P-6's in time for us to get it in...Thanks..
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
The conspiracy guys are all wet on this one. If I may add my two cents worth here, Big Truck really was the only other plausible win candidate. What you saw Saturday wer a lot of smart bettors putting War Pass AND Big Truck on top of their tri and super bets hoping WP did exactly what he did. They then keyed WP,BT, Atoned and Dynamic Wayne underneath and ALL in the fourth spot for the super. In hindsight, it was an easy bet to make and I kicked myself all the way home for not doing it. I , like several million others, couldn't see WP losing. Stupid me!
Phil B More than 1 year ago
It's not often that horses that are 1-20 lose. But it's one thing to lose by running a game 2nd and quite another to lose by 25 lengths. War Pass just might be one of those need the lead types who run out when everything doesn't go his way. Look for his lifetime record at careers' end to look something like this: 12-8-0-0
Steven_Crist More than 1 year ago
Mike, It doesn't sound to me like anyone close to the horse was concerned and that "fever and sickness" is a gross exaggeration of what really happened. From Jay Privman's "No Fast Lane on Derby Road" in DRF: "Zito objected to the widely reported characterization of War Pass running days after having a fever, which is what co-owner Robert LaPenta was reported to have told some media members immediately following the race "He did not have a fever," Zito said. "Fever means you're sick. On my mother's life, he never missed an oat. His temperature was a little high, just slightly, last Sunday, but he was fine the rest of the week. Just to make sure, we took a blood on him on Thursday, and it was perfect. He did not have a fever. That's not why he got beat. Why did he get beat? That's what we've got to find out."