Triple Crown Exotics Offer Astronomical Payouts
by Trevor Whenham - 05/15/2009
If you watched the incredibly unlikely Kentucky Derby win by Mine That Bird this year then you probably saw some of the huge prices that were paid at the betting windows to those who were lucky enough to have bet on the winner. The prices were not just big, they were historical - a $2 bet on Mine That Bird to win paid $103.20, he was on top of a $2 exacta that paid $2074.80, picking the top three runners in the right order (trifecta) entitled you to a $2 wager that paid $41,500.60, and the superfecta (top four horses in the right order) paid an astronomical $557,006.40. In comparison, last year's superfecta paid $58,737.80 on a $2 bet, and that one was viewed as quite high because it included longshot Denis of Cork and Tale of Ekati at the bottom end. More than $32 million was bet on the trifecta and superfecta alone in the Derby. This is serious money.
Given the kind of money that can be won and the size of the betting pools, the exotics are particularly attractive on Triple Crown days. If you don't have a good strategy when you play them, though, you can find yourself broke and sad. Here's a look at how you can reasonably tackle the trifecta and the superfecta to give yourself a reasonable shot at big profit:
Set a budget - It can be very easy to find yourself spending far too much money on the exotics in these races if you aren't careful. If, for example, there are six horses you like in a race, and you were to box them all, then it would cost you a total of $512 for a $2 trifecta, and $2,592 for a $2 superfecta. It adds up quickly, too - a seven-horse superfecta box would cost $4,802, and a 10-horse box would cost $20,000. Though any of those would have been fine this year because of the ridiculous payout (you could have made a 200 percent profit in the Derby this year by boxing the entire field in the superfecta), in most years you would end up spending more on the superfecta than you would win. The best way to avoid doing this is to set your budget in advance and then figure out how many horses you can bet on based on that budget. Letting your money dictate your strategy is the only way to win in the long term - it's just as crucial as good money management is in sports betting.
Team up - Despite my suggestion to limit your budget, in races as big as the Derby and Preakness, in particular, can be you need to cover a whole lot of horses in your exotics to give yourself a good chance of winning. Virtually no one would have had Mine That Bird on top of their superfecta if they were only choosing five or six horses from the field. If you only bet $100 or $200 on the superfecta then you will mostly likely only win if the best horses in the field do what they are supposed to do. Instead of trying to make your limited budget stretch as far as you can, you might be better off teaming up with a few people. You can then combine your $100 or $200 into a bigger pool that will allow you to go much deeper in the pool and give you a much better chance at a payoff. I don't know about you, but I would much rather have 25 percent of a big payout than none of it.
Don't always box - The most common approach people take with exotics is to box a bunch of horses - bet them all in every possible finishing combination. That's by far the easiest way to do things, but the problem with that is that you are paying for a lot of combinations that have a very low probability of paying off - that have a negative return on investment. Instead of boxing, then, you need to prioritize the horses as you see them finishing. Instead of boxing six horses, you could break the field down into different levels of competition. For example, you could say that there are three horses that you think stand a good chance of winning, two more (five in total) that could finish as high as second, three more that could finish third, and two more that could finish fourth. In that way you would cover more horses than you would in a seven-horse box, and you would spend significantly less to do it.
Throw out horses with little chance - Every time a horse like Mine That Bird wins a big race it makes it incredibly tempting to throw in a whole bunch of longshots on your trifecta or superfecta tickets. The thing you have to remember, though, is that most big longshots are big longshots for a reason. Mine That Bird won this year, but if that same race with run with those same horses a thousand times I would be willing to bet that a win bet on Mine That Bird would not be profitable. It doesn't make sense, then, to spend a fortune in the pursuit of the payoffs with those big longshots involved. If a horse stands little chance of winning a race then it doesn't make sense to include him on your ticket in the off chance that he pulls off a miracle.