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Homeracing

Why a win parlay on Fountain of Youth Day would have been a good play

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

February 29th, 2016

I think it was Andrew Beyer who in one of his earlier books retold the classic parlay story. A man goes to the track, starts a $2 win parlay and hits the first eight races. He continues to ride the wave into the final race and bets it all...and loses by a nose. When he gets home, his wife asks him how he fared at the windows.

"Same as usual," he says. "I lost $2."

As this past Saturday's Fountain of Youth Day card at Gulfstream unfolded, and every stakes with an odds-on favorite was won by that horse, that story came to mind and I began to wonder if I had missed the boat on a money-making opportunity.

Betting odds-on favorites on a consistent basis is generally dangerous to your bankroll. You have to win a large percentage of those type of wagers to offset the occasional losses that inevitably occur.

When I looked over the card for my Saturday stakes picks blog, I found only one of those odds-on favorites, X Y Jet, worthy of taking a mild stab against. My gut instinct was that X Y Jet had at least a 75 percent chance of winning, but I decided to back Ready for Rye, who happened to be the last horse that had beaten X Y Jet and was 4-1.

I missed on that opinion, but my others on Cathryn Sophia, Catch a Glimpse, Heart to Heart, and Mohaymen, as standouts in their respective races, proved correct. Since Gulfstream didn't offer an opportunity to bet on the outcome of those races collectively in a Pick 5 sequence, I was curious to know what the parlay would have paid with those five stickouts.

HORSE WAGER WIN PAYOFF PARLAY BALANCE NEXT WAGER AMOUNT CARRYOVER
X Y JET $2 $3.00 $3.00 $3  
CATHRYN SOPHIA $3 $2.40 $3.60 $3 $.60
CATCH A GLIMPSE $3 $3.20 $4.80 $5 $.40
HEART TO HEART $5 $3.80 $9.50 $9 $.90
MOHAYMEN $9 $2.80 $12.60   $.90
TOTAL     $13.50    

 

Turning $2 into $13.50, essentially backing a 5.75-1 shot, isn't too exciting. The results are a little better if you rounded up to the next dollar for the following wager rather than holding onto the pocket change and adding it later.

HORSE WAGER WIN PAYOFF PARLAY BALANCE NEXT WAGER AMOUNT
X Y JET $2 $3.00 $3.00 $3
CATHRYN SOPHIA $3 $2.40 $3.60 $4
CATCH A GLIMPSE $4 $3.20 $6.40 $7
HEART TO HEART $7 $3.80 $13.30 $14
MOHAYMEN $14 $2.80 $19.60  
TOTAL     $19.60  

 

With a total investment of $3.70, the $19.60 represents a return on a 4.4-1 chance.

Since we're dealing with heavy favorites that look extremely difficult to beat, a much larger base wager for this kind of parlay would obviously be ideal. I was most  intrigued to calculate the payoff on an initial outlay of $100.

HORSE WAGER WIN PAYOFF PARLAY BALANCE NEXT WAGER AMOUNT CARRYOVER
X Y JET $100 $3.00 $150 $150  
CATHRYN SOPHIA $150 $2.40 $180 $180  
CATCH A GLIMPSE $180 $3.20 $288 $288  
HEART TO HEART $288 $3.80 $547.20 $547 $.20
MOHAYMEN $547 $2.80 $765.80   $.20
TOTAL     $766    

 

The 6.6-1 odds aren't that much greater than if you had started with a $2 base, but a profit of $666 sure beats $11.50.

There are less smart ways to lose $100 at the track than to try something like this. Sometimes all it takes is guts and genuine foresight. I hope someday to acquire more of both.

(Mohaymen photo: Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

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