12/27/2012 3:42PM

Brad Free: Bonus kicks the pick six up a notch

Emily Shields
Even though Beholder beat Executiveprivilege in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (above), Executiveprivilege has Eclipse-worthy credentials.

ARCADIA, Calif. – The Santa Anita winter meet just got started and already the handicapping notebook is full, with stuff like this …

Happy to report winning pick-six tickets purchased ontrack can receive a 20 percent bonus, possibly starting Jan. 1, pending finalization of details by Santa Anita and the Thoroughbred Owners of California.

But, boy, did I get the math wrong in a Dec. 26 story in Daily Racing Form. While pick-six takeout is 23.68 percent, a 20 percent bonus would not reduce “effective takeout” to 3.68 percent, as reported.

It is a good deal still, but the bonus would reduce effective takeout only to 13 percent. The math is basic: 76.32 cents per dollar ($1 minus 23.68 percent takeout) is returned to pick-six bettors, of which 53.42 cents (70 percent) goes to major payoffs and 22.89 cents (30 percent) to consolations.

The 20 percent bonus would apply to, at most, just 53.42 percent of the pool. That would increase the payoff to 64.10 percent. Add 22.89 percent in consolations and total return is 86.99 percent of the pool.

That would make effective takeout slightly above 13 percent.

A 13 percent takeout is nothing to sneeze at, and would be lower than the best daily wager (pick five) offered at Santa Anita. The pick-six bonus will be in effect on non-carryover days, for ticket-holders that swipe an account card beforehand.

◗ The best daily wager – low takeout, low increment – has to be the 14 percent takeout pick five, a 50-cent bet on the first five races.

On Dec. 26 opening day, when the highest payoff in the sequence was $17, the 50-cent pick five returned $4,322.95. Didn’t have it.

◗ A reason the pick five paid well was odds-on My Miss Aurelia losing race 4. She finished third in the Grade 1 La Brea Stakes, supporting the clichéd angle that mandates betting against horses from the Breeders’ Cup. Handicapping for dummies.

The past two months, 43 of the 162 Breeders’ Cup starters ran back – 9 won, 34 lost. Winners such as Chosen Miracle ($15.20) and Jimmy Creed ($19.20) contributed to a $1.54 return per $2 win bet.

Others lost as favorites including Executiveprivilege, odds-on in the Hollywood Starlet; My Miss Aurelia; Monument, 2-1 in the King Glorious; and The Lumber Guy, seventh at odds-on in the Malibu.

◗ Speaking of Executiveprivilege, this voter will cast his Eclipse ballot for her as outstanding 2-year-old filly of 2012. With due respect for likely champion filly Beholder, Executiveprivilege accomplished more (five wins, four stakes, two Grade 1 races) in 2012 and split decisions with Beholder. Unfortunately, my vote for Executiveprivilege will have about as much impact as another vote I cast at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6.

◗ Quick, without looking, can you name the 2-year-old filly that won more races in 2012 than any other filly? As of Dec. 27, four juvenile fillies had four wins this year (Back Seat Roll, Bel Dancing, Jax and Jill, Tilde). The only five-time winner … Executiveprivilege.

◗ It can be a sucker play to back second-start maidens stretching to a route after only one sprint, no matter how promising their debut. But second-start maiden Mentor Cane looks awfully tough Saturday in race 1 at Santa Anita. Mentor Cane set a fast pace and finished second in his debut, a sprint won by the promising Flashback. So is the John Shirreffs-trained Mentor Cane a standout Saturday? He might be.

◗ Another maiden that will be well supported when he runs back is Footbridge, a son of Street Cry trained by Eoin Harty. Racing 6 1/2 furlongs in his Dec. 26 debut in race 6 at Santa Anita, he lacked speed, rallied wide, and ran like a colt crying for a route. He might be the real deal. Stay tuned.

◗ “You need to start with the shippers.” That was the preseason handicapping advice from Rick Hammerle, Santa Anita vice-president of racing. Sure enough, “shipper” Book Review scored at $11.60 in the La Brea. She actually arrived in California in early December, and was making her first start for Bob Baffert.

◗ Speaking of the La Brea, the 86 Beyer Figure earned by Book Review was the lowest ever for a La Brea winner. The number matches the visual interpretation. Visually, the La Brea looked like a weak race that simply fell apart in favor of an opportunistic closer.

◗ Good for journeyman rider Martin Pedroza to win opening day on Stoneside and establish early momentum after a 1-for-71 meet at Betfair Hollywood Park. It was win No. 3,500 for Pedroza, an admirable total curiously billed as a “milestone.” Well, okay. His career total includes 705 at Fairplex Park, where Pedroza is the all-time leading rider.

◗ After a report that veteran mare Briecat was retired, it was strange she kept showing up on the work tab – Dec. 12, 17 and 22. “She is not going to run,” trainer Vladimir Cerin assured. Turns out Cerin is merely keeping Briecat fit for an upcoming sale at Keeneland, where the 7-year-old will be offered as a racing or breeding prospect. David and Holly Wilson own Briecat, who won 10 races and $683,263 from 39 starts.

◗ It was fun chatting Wednesday with Gene Simmons, rock star from the iconic band KISS, which was a favorite of 1970s teenagers including this one. Simmons is a marketing consultant for Santa Anita, and still widely popular.

In the few moments between picture-taking with horse racing-rock music fans at Santa Anita, Simmons talked about wagering: “The better you are at understanding what horse racing is, the more in love you are with horse, the better you will be at wagering.

“When you are really serious about it, it is a science. But somewhere above the science, your gut has to kick in.”

An opening-day fan, Maggie Tupman, asked Simmons for a tip. “What have you chosen today horse-wise?” she asked. Simmons replied, “I’ve chosen good weather.”

It turned out to be a gorgeous day, which makes Simmons 1 for 1 this season.