A few weeks back, one of this space’s blog posts focused on how the win, place and show pools could be a ticket to success at the races.
Now, let’s view the never-ending quest to turn a profit from a different angle. One in which an exotic wager, such as an exacta, can supplant a place bet.
We’ll start this lesson by saying you like a horse at 5-1 odds in a particular race. So you bet $20 to win.
Then, since there’s no such thing as a sure thing, you hedge your bet by making a $20 place bet on the horse.
Perhaps. Yet there are times when an exacta bet can turn a nose loss by your best bet of the day into a reason to smile instead of uttering four-letter words.
In essence, the decision in this instance is whether you’re willing to give away some of your profit from a win bet to fatten the payoff for a second place finish.
The idea here is that instead of betting $20 to win and place, divide that $40 with $20 going to a win wager and the remaining funds being used for an exacta wheel with your horse in the second spot.
Under this scenario, if your horse wins, you cash the win bet and rip up the exacta tickets. But if the horse runs second, you discard the win ticket and cash an exacta ticket.
This certainly is not a wagering strategy that applies to every situation. If your horse is less than 2-1 odds in a small field, the win payoff would not offer the kind of cushion necessary to absorb the worthless exacta bets. Meanwhile, the exacta payoff could be so paltry that it cannot offset the win bets.
But in the right situation, that all button can inject quite a bit of excitement into your afternoon, or evening depending on the venue.
An extreme example of how this strategy can pay off took place earlier this year in the Louisiana Derby.
Suppose you liked Mark Valeski, the 3-2 favorite, and decided to bet $40 to win on him. You’re wagering $40 to get back $100 and make $60, which is fine. You could also plunk down a $20 place bet so that you’ll recoup some of your win money if someone spoils your best laid plans.
That’s Plan A.
Plan B calls for canning the place bet and spending $22 on an exacta ticket with everyone in the 13-horse field over Mark Valeski and his coupled entry mate Mr. Bowling.
Under Plan A, you came away with $34 for your $60, a loss of $26, as Mark Valeski settled for runner-up honors. At most, had Mark Valeski won, the return would have been $134 for $60 and a profit of $74.
Plan B had a much different outcome as the horse that beat Mark Valeski was not the second or third choice. It was Hero of Order, who was dismissed at an astronomical 109-1. Even though you probably chuckled at the notion of Hero of Order winning the race, by leaving nothing to chance and hitting the all button, you were rewarded with a $491.80 exacta. That’s a profit of $431.80 and sufficient reason to change your screams from “C’mon Mark” to “Hang on Hero” in the final strides.
As mentioned, this was an exaggerated case.
So let’s put it to use in the Kentucky Derby. If you liked I’ll Have Another, it might have made sense to bet $20 to win and then spend $19 using I’ll Have Another underneath in an exacta wheel.
When I’ll Have Another won at 15-1 odds, you received $326 and a profit of $287. You could have collected another $131 had you put $19 to place, but you were sitting on a number of exactas that would have paid off better than that had I’ll Have Another finished second.
Now let’s apply that strategy to the runner-up Bodemeister, the 4-1 favorite. Because his odds were lower, let’s say you bet $30 to win and $19 to place. Your return would have been around $59. If you bet $30 win and $19 on an all-Bodemeister exacta the $1 payoff would have been $153.
A year earlier, an $18 all-Nehro exacta play returned $164.90 as opposed to $100.80 for $18 to place.
In 2010, the strategy backfired as the $19 exacta play on Ice Box returned $76.20 and the place ticket was worth $106.40.
Yet in 2009, that strategy produced a gold mine. If you liked Pioneer of the Nile, something that was fairly easy to do since he was the third choice in the wagering, betting $18 on Pioneer of the Nile to place generated a payoff of $75.60. On the other hand, putting $18 into an all-Pioneer of the Nile exacta made you the rare bird who cashed on the exacta with Mine That Bird. Your reward for backing a runner-up was $1,037.40, making that loss rather easy to swallow. So easy, it probably went down like champagne.
Long-term, depending on your handicapping prowess, this approach might cost you money. A highly successful handicapper might even view it as betting against themselves since you can’t cash both the win and exacta tickets unless there’s a dead heat.
Yet for others, especially those new to the game, it can be a way to increase your chances of hitting a home run and cashing a large ticket – maybe an IRS ticket.
Just think of it as an insurance policy with a fairly reasonable premium and the potentiality for bringing a few more dollars into your life.
And what are your thoughts? Have you ever have opted for the all button over a place bet? Were you glad that you did?
HITTING A BIG EXACTA BET CAN LEAD TO A MEMORABLE DAY AT THE TRACK