05/10/2011 3:27PM

Hollywood Park: Carryovers boost pools, raise expectations

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Benoit & Associates
Hollywood Park bettors have flocked to the reduced-takeout pick five.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Horseplayers have embraced the low-takeout pick five wager introduced this spring at Hollywood Park. Three weeks into the meet, the 50-cent pick five has out-handled the traditional $2 pick six – $1.8 million to $1.7 million.

Call it a victory for the law of supply and demand. With a takeout rate of 14 percent, the pick five is the least expensive wager in California. Meanwhile, the pick-six takeout rate is 23.86 percent.

The cost discrepancy helps explain why pick five (races 1-5) average handle exceeds $150,000 compared with the average pick-six handle (last six races) of slightly more than $142,000.

Both pools will multiply Thursday at Hollywood, thanks to carryovers – $107,487 in the pick five, $91,681 in the pick six. The carryovers are the first of the meet, and the amount wagered Thursday may provide a revealing look at the dynamics of jackpot-chasing.

Horseplayers are attracted to positive-expectation situations – when the amount returned to winning bettors exceeds the amount wagered. That occurs when carryover negates takeout.

Positive expectation, however, is not automatic. It depends on takeout rate and amount of fresh money. An example shows what would occur Thursday if $500,000 was wagered into each pool. Mathematically, the pick five would be a better bet.

If $500,000 was wagered into the pick five, total payout would be $537,487. That amount is more than wagered, a positive expectation. ($500,000 minus $70,000 takeout plus $107,487 carryover equals $537,487).

If $500,000 was wagered into the pick six, the total payout would be $473,281. That amount is less than wagered. ($500,000 minus $118,400 takeout plus $91,681 carryover equals $473,281).

Of course, wagering theory will make no difference unless a handicapper can pick winners. The challenging Thursday card is worth a closer look.

Race 1: Horse-for-course Meter Me Gone may go favored in the sprint for 3-year-old claiming fillies, but dropper Desperate Measures can upset. She has more zip than she showed last out. Takethemoneyandrun has a hot trainer-jockey combo of Vladimir Cerin and Rafael Bejarano. “He delivers for me,” Cerin said. The past five years, they have won at a 31-percent clip (29 for 93). Cerin and Bejarano combine Thursday in three races.

Race 2: Going for a Spin is up in class to a first-level allowance sprint after she dusted statebreds. Moonstruck Maya is fresh and improving, while All the Love also is sharp. Euro-import Miss Mittagong, purchased overseas for approximately $13,000, returns for trainer Ben Cecil and could play spoiler. Can she win first out? “I’m not going to say no,” Cecil said. Miss Mittagong was produced by local graded stakes winner Go Go.

Race 3: A 2-year-old maiden race is smack in the middle of the pick five, while pick six bettors can monitor wagering activity and visually inspect five first-time starters before placing wagers. Andy Harrington, well-regarded clocker for National Turf, offered positive review of rookies Molly’s All Heart and Vicki Victoria.

Molly’s All Heart has improved since adding ear muffs. “She showed good gate speed [May 1] . . . she is fast and fit,” Harrington said. The filly’s trainer was more enthusiastic. “I love her,” Walther Solis said. “She’s temperamental – earmuffs helped tremendously.”

Vicki Victoria is immature, but has ability, Harrington said. “She was best, but green, in a May 5 gate workout, best of three in a team drill April 28, and most noteworthy, second-best to Free and Able in a gate drill April 22,” he said. Free And Able won first out May 1.

Gogi, who Harrington calls a “tiny thing,” finished second in her debut in a maiden-claimer. Finally, the clocker’s associates at Santa Anita said Jessakar has held her own with older workmates. “She may be a sneaky sort,” Harrington said.

Race 4: A $20,000 maiden-claiming sprint includes pop-and-stop Free Time, presser Free From my Ex, comebacker Warren’s Closer, and closers Party Ruler and Nisus.

Race 5: Cerin-trained Vikkilee seeks her second straight in the turf sprint for $25,000 claiming fillies and mares. “She’ll need some luck,” Cerin said, referring to her closing style. Bejarano is 4 for 7 on Vikkilee, whose rivals include Sleep Tight and upset candidate Meadow Lake Queen, who had a compromising trip last out.

Race 6: Streets of Heaven, a Hollywood horse-for-course, is a possible standout in this $12,500 claiming sprint at seven furlongs. He will have to catch front-runner Afleet Deal, and hold off comeback closers Star Nicholas and Remus. Margarita Shot also entered.

Race 7: Leading trainer Mike Mitchell (8 for 19) starts first-off-the-claim Burj Dubai in a 1 1/16-mile N2X allowance. Burj Dubai stretches out after a big $50,000 claiming sprint win. “He doesn’t seem like a sprinter,” Mitchell said. (Jockey Corey Nakatani, said Mitchell “can do what he wants, but I think he’ll make the lead on his own. Pacesetters are 6-for-20 in Cushion Track races at a mile and a sixteenth.

Cigar Man, another Cerin-Bejarano combo, drops from tougher races. A Grade 3 winner in November, he is eligible because he runs for a $62,500 claim tag. In his last five starts at this level, Cigar Man has three wins and two seconds.

Race 8: This $20,000 maiden-claimer is a split of race 4. Gutshot Straight drops off a big comeback and looks too good to be true against Blind Magic and possible upsetter Wheels of Justice. Ten-start front-runner Cabo San Lucas will gas early, 10-start closer Gifted Student will rally late.