12/22/2015 1:38PM

Crist: Pick five has room to grow even more


The first five races at Aqueduct on Dec. 18 were a dreary quintet, with just 34 horses contesting four maiden races and a $10,000 claimer. Yet they commanded the attention of horseplayers from coast to coast, who wagered a record $1.2 million on the pick five that day, more than the bet attracted on Belmont Stakes Day and six times the usual pool for a Friday afternoon at The Big A.

The reason was an unprecedented carryover in the pick five, a bet that debuted in New York at the 2013 Belmont Park fall meeting. It took 27 months and more than 500 cards for no one to hit the 50-cent-minimum wager. When it finally happened, the results were enlightening on two fronts, not only illustrating the power of carryovers and low-minimum, low-takeout bets but also revealing some shortcomings in the rules governing the wager.

The scene was set the day before, when three extreme longshots created the carryover despite small fields and victories by 3-2 and 2-1 shots. The two five-horse fields in the sequence, however, yielded $63.50 and $30 winners, and only five of the nine runners in the finale were covered. When sixth choice Because I’m Happy prevailed at $29.80, New York had its first pick five carryover. The entire net pool, reduced by 15 percent takeout from $191,605 to $162,253, was carried over to Friday.

There also was a pick six carryover of $21,092 for Friday, but few noticed. That pool attracted just $93,473 in Friday wagers, while the novel pick five carryover drew an astounding $1,229,447, nearly eight times the carryover. The entire world stayed alive early as a $5.20 favorite took the opener and a $2.80 layover romped in the second. The final three winners paid $10, $21.20, and $9.80, an only mildly tricky sequence of winners that combined for a payoff of $3,952 for $2, or $988 for 50 cents – more than twice the parlay.

It also appears that the excitement surrounding the Friday pool carried over to the weekend. Last Saturday, the pick five handled $337,507, a 17 percent increase from the previous Saturday. On Sunday, the pool was $348,627, a 40 percent increase over the previous Sunday’s $247,838.

The customers’ enthusiasm for the pick five seems to be a function of affordability and perceived value. With a 50-cent instead of $2 minimum and one fewer race, the pick five costs roughly one-tenth as much as a pick six play providing similar coverage. A $64 or $96 investment has a real chance to pay off in the pick five, whereas a similarly modest play in the pick six usually just feeds the whales in the pool.

Also, the low 15 percent takeout inflates the already-generous payoffs that routinely result from spreading a 15 percent takeout over five races. While the pick six takeout rises from 15 percent to 25 percent when there is a carryover, the pick five remains at 15 percent at all times.

The one sour note was that those who picked four of five right in Thursday’s impossible sequence deserved a medal but received absolutely nothing in the way of consolation. This is a deficiency in the way the rules for the bet were written more than two years ago and is completely inconsistent with every other bet on the menu. How can you pay people for going 4 for 6 in the pick six, which happened Thursday, while giving nothing to those who go 4 for 5 in the pick five? It is the only parimutuel event in New York, and perhaps anywhere else, where 100 percent of a post-takeout pool is held for a carryover and not a penny is paid back to the public that day.

The New York Racing Association was aware of the shortcomings of the rule, but fixing it has not been a high priority given that there had never been a carryover in its two years of existence. A change is in order for the next time there’s a carryover, and NYRA shouldn’t stop there: Why not a consolation 4-of-5 payout every day?

Other tracks do it, including Gulfstream and Keeneland, and it does nothing but good for both the track and its customers. Providing a reward for those who go 4 for 5 can only boost player morale, improve churn, and reduce Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements and withholding taxes. Providing a consolation payout will provide intermittent reinforcement while improving players’ cash flow and should attract and retain more players in the long run.

As last week’s carryover proved, the pick five has captured bettors’ attention as an affordable way to play a multirace sequence. Consolation payoffs can only make it more appealing and help it continue to grow.

Sinatra More than 1 year ago
Your blog is waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.....
Michael Beauregard More than 1 year ago
What I like about S Crist is he is a player. The IRS hurts this game real bad so bad in fact I know many players who use 10 % every time they get a tax ticket, That money seldom gos back into the game . In Ct we have to pay IRS plus the state tax Then in the end of year return it puts you into a much higher bracket then you belong because of all your tax tickets. This is the biggest rip off of all. .I wish the pick 5 was a .50 min. ticket
Paul Gundy More than 1 year ago
Right on for the reasons you discussed. I have also advocated this approach on the last day mandatory payout of jackpot pick 6. There should be a payout for 5 out of 6 just like any other pick 6.
Edward Nelson More than 1 year ago
Zero interest in a 4 of 5 payout on pick 5's....it's perfect the way it is so don't mess with it
J Vette More than 1 year ago
They already messed with it..... there was a consolation for 4 out of 5 when it started... even though it was mostly small payoffs, it was CHURN, gave you back some money for the next day..... what's wrong with that ???
Thomas More than 1 year ago
The only reason the pick 6 has a 5 of 6 conso is because you have to pick 6 winners at 2.00 a ticket. If that conso didn't exist, not too many people would play it at 2.00 per ticket. The pick 5 should not have a 4 of 5 conso for the same reason the pick 4 should not have a 3 of 4 conso.
drserv More than 1 year ago
Actually, Monmouth has the same rules for their Pick 4 and Pick 5. Nobody hits it, these pools carry over completely into the second half of the card, or the next day's card.
Tommy Massis More than 1 year ago
catering to the $12 bankroll smfh
genewashington1 More than 1 year ago
You do not have to change the rules for something that happens .2% of the time. It is called a pick 5 - not a pick 4 out of 5.
Mark Hartney More than 1 year ago
Steven Crist certainly doesn't need me to defend him but Bryan Waters - really? You are angry because the DRF "provides incomplete/partial information" regarding the sport, and therefor should be banned? If you don't like the product DRF puts out - here is an idea that you could implement without taking a torch to the first amendment: STOP PAYING FOR IT AND READ SOMETHING ELSE. Better yet, publish your own horse racing rag and enlighten all of us with your superior wisdom. But don't do it if you think having your own platform allows you to tell NYRA "what rules it should have and when it should have them." You will be no more successful at that then Crist or DRF is. On the other hand, if you can do 1% as much as Crist has done over his career to enlighten, entertain and teach people about the game, you will be thanked. In the meantime, try not to let conspiracy theorist dribble cloud your thinking. peace
Bryan Waters More than 1 year ago
Dude, your assumptions are showing, I do not read, buy, or peruse anything related to the past performances put out by DRF. Number two, I don't want to publish a horse racing rag. Number three, I have no superior wisdom when it comes to horse racing or much of anything else. Lastly, I'm not impressed, at all, with what Mr. Crist has done with his publishing power. In fact, I think it borders on the criminal and the immoral. But hey. That's just me, a conspiracy theorist, right? Peace to you.
Bryan Waters More than 1 year ago
Stop and think about this for a moment. Here is Steven Crist, the publisher of the Daily Racing Form, telling NYRA what rules it should have and when it should have them. Meanwhile, his publication continues, unabated, day after day, year after year, to provide incomplete information/partial information regarding performances by horses, trainers, and owners. Why? The question is, why, and who does that lack of information benefit? It benefits Mr. Crist and others in the know, and falls hand-in-hand with "inside information" on Wall Street. It should be illegal, and Mr. Crist should be banned, for life, from publishing the Daily Racing Form.