12/03/2009 1:48PM

A Tale of Two Carries


Wednesday's two pick-six carryovers at Aqueduct and Hollywood Park unfolded in fascinatingly parallel fashion. While the Hollywood carryover and subsequent pool was roughly four times larger than the one at the Big A, there were precisely 122 live combinations going into the last leg of both:

In both cases, a 3-2 favorite won the last leg, leaving 46 winners at Aqueduct at $3,523 and 50 at Hollywood for $16,540, when the payoffs could have been as high as single winners of $161,536 at Aqueduct and $824,558 at Hollywood:


It's interesting how differently the results lined up to produce the same number of live combinations into the last leg. At Aqueduct, there were four favorites in the $3.50 to $6.20 range and one $56.50 bomb in the only race of the sequence that lacked a standout. At Hollywood, after the first two winners paid $4.80 and $5.60, there were $16.00, $8.80 and $12.00 winners that blew up the potential payouts more than a 27-1 winner did at Aqueduct. They may have been trickier than the win mutuels suggest: The $12 winner, for example, was the longest shot in a four-horse field.

The willpays also illustrate how win-pool favorites are even heavier favorites in the pick-6, where the winning favorites in the last leg were effectively shorter prices than their 3-2 odds in the mutuels, and the top four choices accounted for 96 and 102 of the 122 live combos in each. There are also anomalies that skew attempts to identify value or correlate win prices to payoffs, such as there being three live tickets at Aqueduct to a 66-1 shot but only one live ticket to a 12-1 shot.

I didn't get involved in either one, but my hat is off to those who navigated them successfully. The Hollywood players got a decent double-the-parlay payoff but the Aqueduct winners had to be a little disappointed -- not just because the payoff barely beat the parlay, but also because when you get a $56.50 horse home in the second leg, you have to think you're looking at more than $3,523 if you get through the next four legs. Pick-6 players have gotten smarter and smarter over the years. There was a time when a $56.50 winner, even in the midst of five favorites (though only one of them odds-on) would have meant far fewer than 122 live tickets into the last leg.