01/26/2012 2:37PM

Brad Free: Luck Pick Six expensive, but irresistible


I’d like to wager Saturday on the Luck Pick Six, a bet that requires finding the winners of six stakes – three at Gulfstream Park and three at Santa Anita.

For the sake of integrity (preach it, play it), I will make a bet. But geez, it would have been nice if the wager was a little less expensive.

While the minimum bet is $1, the cost of the bet is as high as it gets in California. And yes, there is a difference between “bet size” and “bet cost.”

[LUCK PICK SIX: Watch video handicapping previews, follow the races LIVE]

As the public has acknowledged by supporting the least-expensive wager on the Southern California menu – the 14 percent takeout pick five – the difference between bet size and cost is meaningful.

The cost of a bet is the takeout rate – the percent of the pool taken out before the remainder is returned to winning bettors. In California, exotic wagers that link three or more horses are taxed at 23.68 percent. The lone exception is the pick five.

No wonder the 14 percent takeout pick five has exploded in popularity relative to the pick six. Based on cost, the pick six is nearly 70 percent more expensive than the pick five.

On Saturday, Luck Pick Six bettors will buck the same high takeout as the traditional pick six – 23.68 percent. At least the wager is spread over six races, and takeout can be compensated by accurate opinions against vulnerable favorites or accurate opinions on a longshot. In the Luck Pick Six Saturday, there are both.

Another key consideration regarding the Luck Pick Six is the absence of a consolation payoff. This is different from the traditional pick six in which tickets with six winners divide 70 percent of the net pool, while consolations (tickets with highest number of winners less than six) divide 30 percent of the pool.

The Luck Pick Six does not have a consolation provision. Tickets with the most number of winners split the net pool, without a carryover.

So there you have it – 23.68 percent takeout and no consolation. Still plan to play? I will, because the Luck Pick Six will include both vulnerable favorites and overlooked outsiders. Like the ones below.

Leg A: Gulfstream, race 8, $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf

Unbridled Humor’s inexcusable fourth-place finish two months ago in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park left questions unanswered. It was her first loss on firm turf, and while the Grade 1 label suggests quality, that also remains unknown. None of the top six Matriarch finishers have run since. Unbridled Humor is 5 for 8, but tough to trust.

Speak Easy Gal drew the inside post, and enters as the potential controlling speed. In Leg A, the main contenders are Unbridled Humor and Speak Easy Gal.

Leg B: Santa Anita, race 4, $100,000 Sensational Star

At 4-5 on the line, Caracortado will be a popular single. Yet bettors that expect he will reproduce his electrifying Jan. 8 victory base that premise on an unlikely scenario. Last out, Caracortado benefitted from an extreme pace – dueling front-runners that knocked out each other through a 43-second half. The pace of the Sensational Star will be slower.

Ain’t No Other, first across the wire in 7 of 12 races, enters as the potential lone front-runner. At odds of 6-1, he offers value. Caracortado might run past him anyway, but the value is the heat. The main contenders in Leg B are Ain’t No Other and Caracortado.

Leg C: Gulfstream, race 9, $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf

Regarding pace, Little Mike is the lone speed, though unproven at the trip. If he stays nine furlongs, he can be gone. For the sake of economy, Little Mike might be a single.

Leg D: Santa Anita, race 5, $100,000 Crystal Water

The older California-breds are muddled, and top choice Holladay Road faces a track profile unkind to his closing style. Thirtyfirststreet is favored, but is jamming back only 16 days after a career-best effort. Bluegrass Reward is fast, Spud Spivens will rally. It’s a tough race in which pick six bettors might consider hitting the “all.”

Leg E: Gulfstream, race 10, $400,000 Sunshine Millions Classic

Adios Charlie, one-two in all six of his races, including three Grade 2’s last year against 3-year-olds, has a good prep and blowout wins in both starts at Gulfstream. If he stretches his speed 1 1/8 miles around two turns, he can win. If not, then Ron the Greek is the right horse.

As for Mucho Macho Man, he has always been slightly overrated. The main contenders are Adios Charlie and Ron the Greek.

Leg F: Santa Anita, race 6, $100,000 Valentine Dancer

The favorite, Unzip Me, is expected to scratch, leaving this a wide-open race.

In Leg F, main contenders are Antares World, improving La Sombre, Halo Dolly and longshot 30-1 bomber Warren’s Got Game, a deep closer in a race that could fall apart.