03/24/2016 11:56AM

Crist: Sumptuous feast for fans and players


The racing industry used to waste a lot of time and effort debating whether it is a sport or a gambling game. The correct answer, of course, is both, and there’s no need to declare one the winner over the other. Exhibit A is Saturday’s racing, which offers the most outsized examples of both.

First, at 9 p.m. in the United Arab Emirates and 1 p.m. in New York, there’s the richest horse race on the planet, the $10 million Dubai World Cup at Meydan. About five hours later, the largest parimutuel payoff in American history could be decided by a maiden-claiming race at Gulfstream Park.

The World Cup, relevant to American racing again after mercifully being returned to dirt last year, drew five strong American entrants led by California Chrome, Frosted, and Mshawish. A victory would jump any of them to the top of the polls as the nation’s top runner and the very early favorite for Horse of the Year.

There is wagering on the World Cup and the rest of the strong Dubai card, but stateside bettors will spend much more chasing Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 wager, which as of Thursday morning had a $4 million carryover after going unclaimed since January. Saturday has been set as the mandatory payout day for the bet, which means the pool will be paid out regardless of how many winners there are. Usually, the pool continues to carry over until a day when there is just one winning ticket.

Assuming nobody prematurely takes down the carryover on the Thursday or Friday cards, Saturday’s pool is expected to climb over the $10 million mark. In theory, a horseplayer could have an even better day than the owner who wins $6 million for finishing first in Dubai.

The Rainbow 6, with just a 20-cent minimum, consists of Gulfstream’s last six races Saturday, and the sequence has been designed for quantity over quality, with 86 entrants before scratches in races 7 through 12 (preliminary fields of 14, 15, 12, 14, 11, and 16). Five of the six races are on the grass, all at a mile or less, and five are for maidens or claimers. It’s not easy, but what fun would that be?

The size of the pool could produce a one-winner payoff even higher than the North American record of $10.87 million at Hollywood Park in July 2007. More realistically, the appeal for most bettors – in addition to the 20-cent minimum and the $5 million or so in free carryover money – is that so many whales and syndicates will be investing huge sums that a logical set of results could produce a massively overlaid payoff.

Sport or gambling? On Saturday, it’s the biggest of both.

Sick 6 at Churchill

Speaking of carryovers, here’s hoping someone hits the pick six on the Kentucky Derby card at Churchill Downs on May 7. Otherwise, a game of parimutuel three-card monte will kick in under a scheme unfortunately approved this week by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

To see how it works, let’s suppose that the Derby pick six pool, where the minimum bet is $2, is exactly $1 million. After the usual 22 percent takeout, that leaves $780,000 that’s supposed to be paid out – $190,000 in Derby Day consolations and $570,000 that normally would be up for grabs in a carryover pool when racing at Churchill resumes on Thursday, May 12.

Instead, Churchill will add only half of that $570,000 to the May 12 pool, which will be conducted with a 20-cent minimum and with a mandatory payout. The other half of the pool will be carried over to Friday, May 13, to seed a new Rainbow-style “Single 6” pool that Churchill is beginning that day. That pool is paid out only when there is a lone winner, so it’s entirely possible that the Derby Day carryover money won’t be paid out until June.

This is dangerous policy that disrespects the integrity of the wagering pools. It makes the effective pick six takeout on Derby Day a whopping 49 percent, with $220,000 from that $1 million pool going to standard takeout and another $270,000 in carryover money going into an entirely different kind of pick six pool starting almost a week later. It is also messy to have a carryover pool from a $2 minimum wager paid out several days later on a 20-cent-minimum wager.

It amounts to diverting money from a parimutuel pool into a marketing scheme to promote an entirely different wager, a scary precedent that could enable tracks to seize money from parimutuel pools for their own promotional use. Churchill makes more than enough money on the Derby to seed its own pool for a new wager without confiscating it from bettors who deserve to be paid the full carryover the first time the pick six is hit after Derby Day.

Anthony Mario More than 1 year ago
Playing the Derby day $2 pick six has been like throwing your money away.  Unless you have deep pockets forget about it.
exiles12 More than 1 year ago
This outright robbery call the cops to catch the CHURCHILL CROOKS.
Chet Needy More than 1 year ago
This is what happens when Governors appoint unqualified people to the Ky Horse Racing Commission.  I wish somehow you could embarrass them but its impossible.  They need
to start all over again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is what Churchill Downs is doing even legal? Seems to fly in the face of what the rules of pari-mutual wager are.
Rob Tolliver More than 1 year ago
Wow Churchill Downs with a historic all time low
Jean More than 1 year ago
my buddy's sister makes $83 an hour on the computer . She has been fired for ten months but last month her payment was $15973 just working on the computer for a few hours. visit homepage ************************************** w­­w­­w­­.­­jo­­b­­i­­n­­c­­o­m­­e­­3­­0­­.­­c­­o­­m
Nick Pavletic More than 1 year ago
Tommy Massis More than 1 year ago
your sister gives head
Anthony Mario More than 1 year ago
If that were true then why aren't you doing it instead of your buddy's sister.  I only hope that after how long this scam has been going around the internet that everyone is laughing at you.
Equinometry More than 1 year ago
This is CD way of trying to get people to bet their jackpot Pick 6. Last year it handled almost nothing even with multi day carryovers. I hope it gets hit on Derby day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello Steve. I hope you are doing well. I wanted to get your take about the pathetic product that has been in display at Aqueduct this winter. Just a parade of boring 5 & 6 horse fields, featuring to many to count 2/5 & 3/5 shots, strung out over the track, racing for mind boggling purses. I believe is time for the NYRA, or whoever is calling the shots in NY do away with racing from January through March.
Mike Oliveto More than 1 year ago
So you're suggesting that horsemen that make their living in racing in New York forgo 2 months of income so that you aren't bored paying attention attention to something that no one is forcing you to pay attention to?
Bob Blake More than 1 year ago
Steve, post your P6 GP ticket! Miss seeing your plays! Respect ... See you in Toga? Hope so!
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
Hi Bob, I'll be playing and liveblogging the Rainbow 6 on Saturday. There should be a link on the homepage. SC
Ink_Stainer More than 1 year ago
Steve, Any advice on playing the Rainbow 6 this Saturday? Do you think its still important to find a single and spread or play differently? Thanks love your articles. Chas
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
I'll be writing about this on Saturday, but I don't think you need to find a single when the minimum is only 20 cents. If you can get even two races down to a couple of horses, you'll still have enough ammo to spread elsewhere.
AskRubenHow2Bet More than 1 year ago
Great to see you'll be live-blogging the Rainbow 6 Steve, good luck sir!