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Justin Phillip is one of David Hill's top choices for the Breeders' Cup Sprint. (Photo courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

Breeders’ Cup weekend is the richest in U.S. Thoroughbred racing for the owners, trainers, jockeys and horses that are competing. But the Breeders’ Cup provides some of the biggest paydays for horseplayers as well.

The average exacta payouts on Breeders’ Cup races range from $150 to $350. The single-race exotics on Breeders’ Cup weekend tend to pay pretty decent sums. Why shouldn’t they? With full cards that are packed with 10 or 12 top contenders who all stand a chance at winning, it’s hard to nail the right order in the single-race wagers.

But for those of us who like to play the multi-race bets like the Pick Three, Pick Four and Pick Six, the Breeders’ Cup is like Christmas come early. There is no analog for the kind of money a multi-race player stands to make on Breeders’ Cup weekend. One big ticket can put you ahead for the year … or for a lifetime.

Expanded multi-race wagering was introduced to the Breeders Cup in 2002 and since that time they have posted some pretty impressive payouts. In those 10 years, the Pick Three has an average payout of nearly $3,000, the Pick Four has paid off more than $20,000 six different times and the Pick Six has paid off more than a million bucks three different times.

This year the Breeders’ Cup is offering a bonanza of multi-race options with plenty of guaranteed money.

Friday - $500,000 guaranteed Pick Five on races 1-5

Friday - $1,000,000 guaranteed Pick Six on races 5-10

Friday - $1,500,000 guaranteed Pick Four on races 7-10

Saturday - $500,000 guaranteed Pick Five on races 1-5

Saturday - $1,000,000 guaranteed Pick Four on races 4-7

Saturday - $2,500,000 guaranteed Pick Six on races 7-12

Saturday - $3,000,000 guaranteed Pick Four on races 9-12

How can you not play?

The problem, of course, is that multi-race wagers are expensive to play if you want to cover enough horses to give yourself any hope of winning — the Pick Six especially. So given that times are tough, the Federal stimulus money is running out, and absolutely nobody seems to be covering the spread this season, I’ll try to suggest how those of us on a tight budget can dip our toe in the multi-race pool with the big boys and girls and take a shot at all that money.

Since it’s ridiculous to think we can get involved in all of these pools on a limited budget, I’ll just take a stab at the big show - the $3 million late Pick Four on Saturday that concludes with the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Betting Structure

Your Caveman Ticket

The first thing you have to figure out is your caveman ticket. A caveman ticket is one where you just pick all the horses you like in each race and bet every combination of them. This is a very expensive way to play. It also doesn’t take into consideration that you might like some of those horses a lot more than you like others; or that some of those horses may have much shorter or longer odds and offer radically different payouts. You’re just treating them all exactly the same, like a dumb, idiot caveman.

To simply things for ourselves, we will play one caveman ticket for the full amount - $2 per ticket. We will pick our two favorite horses in each leg.

2x2x2x2 = 16 x $2 = $32

How Often Do You Want to Be Wrong?

Steven Crist teaches in his excellent book "Exotic Betting" that the key to picking multi-race wagers is to weigh your picks by giving them letter grades (A,B,C and X) and then betting sequences that allow you to be “wrong” about your A horses a certain number of times. If you are willing to only be “wrong” once, you can bet every combination of AAAB, AABA, ABAA, etc. If you are willing to be “wrong” twice, you can add to those combinations every combination of AABB, ABBA, ABAB, BABA, etc. The amount of these tickets depends on how many horses you assigned A’s and B’s to. Those with deep pockets can even add in their C selections. We won’t be doing that this weekend. When you’re broke, you need to make up the difference by being damn good at picking horses.

For my ticket, I’m going to add three horses to the two that I put on my caveman ticket in each leg. Let’s call those my “B” selections. If I buy four more tickets where I replace my A selections with my B selections for one of each leg, and buy each of them for $1 (hey, these are our second stringers, so why invest too much in them?) that will look like this:

2x2x2x3 = 24 x $1 = $24

2x2x3x2 = 24 x $1 = $24

2x3x2x2 = 24 x $1 = $24

3x2x2x2 = 24 x $1 = $24

Total = $96

Add this to our $32 caveman ticket and we have $128 in Pick Four tickets.

Sound like a lot of money? Last year’s late Pick Four paid $5,647.40. Here’s how beatable it was: not a single horse in that Pick Four went off longer than 8-to-1. And Wise Dan, the winner of the Mile, was the even-money favorite. You could have singled Wise Dan, the single heaviest favorite on all of the cards, and still cashed for over $5,000.

And let’s not forget, you’ve covered five horses in every leg! If you DID want to single Wise Dan in the Mile, which you can totally do since he’s running in it again this year (as are the winners of the other three legs of last year’s Pick Four: Fort Larned, Trinniberg, and Little Mike!), then you can get away with putting even more horses on other legs! Or you can just play this ticket for much cheaper.

2x2x1x2 = 8 x $2 = $16

2x2x1x3 = 12 x $1 = $12

2x3x1x2 = 12 x $1 = $12

3x2x1x2 = 12 x $1 = $12

Total = $52


Wise Dan Eclipse HOY

 Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

Deep Pockets, Deep Tickets

Let’s say you hit big early and find yourself with a lot of discretionary income to spend on this Pick Four ticket. Now you can choose to invest that money one of two ways: you can add more B horses to your tickets, or you can do what I do and allow yourself to be “wrong” more often. Buy the tickets with your B horses in two legs!

2x2x3x3 = 36 x $1 = $36

2x3x3x2 = 36 x $1 = $36

3x3x2x2 = 36 x $1 = $36

3x2x2x3 = 36 x $1 = $36

3x2x3x2 = 36 x $1 = $36

2x3x2x3 = 36 x $1 = $36

Total = $216!!

Yikes that’s a lot of money to add to your $128 in tickets you already have. Yeah, the payoffs are big, but it’s still gambling and most of us are going to go home with these tickets as souvenirs. The good news, my frugal friends, is that the Pick Four can be bet in increments as low as $.50! So we can add these combinations to our tickets for $108.

Still too much money? Yeah, I agree. So let’s just not be wrong more than once, OK?

Touting the Winners

I recognize, dear readers, that I’ve done you little to no favors by doing all of this third grade arithmetic for you. Perhaps I’ve shared no information that you didn’t already know. Perhaps you are excited to learn all of this but still have butt-all clue which horses to play. Fear not, for I will now share with you my own A and B selections that I intend to play on Saturday. Just don’t tell any of your friends until AFTER we’ve won because the more people who play these tickets the more people we have to split the loot with, OK?

Race 9 - TURF

9-Indy Point (ARG) and 7-The Fugue (GB)

I’m going with a couple of foreign-bred horses here and will probably lean heavier on these guys in the Turf races in general. The Fugue is an obvious choice. Her last three races, even the seventh-place finish in July in the Coral Eclipse in the UK, were all very fast. Her last win was against males in Ireland and she destroyed them. Indy Point has been running in the U.S. since this summer and he’s had two impressive victories. There’s a pretty bad finish in the Arlington Million, but I’m willing to forgive it since he shipped back to California and won a tough Grade 2 running four wide. I was tempted to put Point of Entry up as an A horse with eight wins in his last 10 races but he’s just coming back from an injury and long layoff so I’m downgrading to a B.

B horses -  8-Point of Entry, 10-Big Blue Kitten, 11-Magician (IRE)

Race 10 - SPRINT

1-Justin Phillip and 9-Secret Circle

First off a moment of silence for Points Offthebench, who would have easily topped this list for me if not for his tragic death this month. 

I’m biased towards both of these guys because I saw them both win big races at Oaklawn Park. Justin Phillip is having a hell of a year with three triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure wins and two triple-digit places. Has been bested by some of these but I like giving the nod to the older horse in a race like this, all other things being equal. And while Trinniberg, the horse who won this race last year and is returning for another shot, hasn’t done squat since, Justin Philliip has put together the best year of his career in 2013 and it would be most appropriate for him to end the year with a win here. Secret Circle is a horse I have history with. This race will be his second off a long layoff that started with the 2012 Arkansas Derby last April! But the comeback race was hot, so I have no reason not to think he’s sitting on a big race right now.

B horses - 3-Gentlemen’s Bet, 7-Private Zone, 8-Fast Bullet

Race 11 - MILE

3-Silver Max and 8-Wise Dan

Wise Dan is back to try to win this race again, and he will be the top betting choice once again. There’s no reason to think he can’t smoke this field. Well, there is one reason. His loss in his last race to Silver Max in the Shadwell Turf Mile ended his streak of nine straight wins. Yes, that race was moved off the turf. Sure, this race is back on turf, but that race was on the Keeneland Polytrack, a surface that Wise Dan has won on multiple times and a surface that isn’t much different than turf in how races set up. It could just be that as good as Wise Dan was, Silver Max was a little bit better. For his part Silver Max was coming off of an impressive win streak of his own. Perhaps this is a horse that is prepared to take the crown from old Dan. Or maybe it was a fluke. Either way, leave Silver Max off your ticket at your own risk.

B horses - 4-Obviously (IRE), 6-Bright Thought, 9-Cristoforo Colombo


Silver Max Hero

Photo courtesy of Keeneland

Race 12 - CLASSIC

9-Game On Dude and 10-Will Take Charge

Readers of my work here at ABR will not be surprised that I’m backing Will Take Charge in this race. But I like his chances as a game 3-year-old who has really shown up as a completely different horse since taking off his blinkers in the Jim Dandy. He’s faced tough competition on a grueling 3-year-old campaign and is getting better rather than regressing the way Palace Malice seems to be. I love this horse, this owner and this trainer and I want to follow them all the way to the Eclipse Awards. But first WTC has to beat Game On Dude, who is expected to be a huge favorite in this race. Winner of nine of his last 11 races and all five of his starts this year, Game On Dude is making his case for Horse of the Year as well, and it is only fitting that in order to be the best, Will Take Charge needs to beat the best. He beat all the top 3-year-olds already. Now let’s see if he can get through the old man. At least with WTC you’ll get a nice price.

B horses - 6-Mucho Macho Man, 7-Fort Larned, 8-Palace Malice

Good luck this weekend, whoever you may be betting on. 


PADerby Hero

Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire

$3 Breeders’ Cup Turf

Saturday,  Race 9, 6:22 p.m. EST

1 ½ miles on the turf for 3-year-olds and older







Vagabond Shoes

Victor Espinoza

John W. Sadler



Teaks North

Martin Garcia

Eric J. Guillot



Twilight Eclipse

Julien R. Leparoux

Thomas Albertrani



Little Mike

Mike Smith

Dale L. Romans




Luis Saez

D. Wayne Lukas



Tale of a Champion

Joe Talamo

Kristin Mulhall



The Fugue

William Buick

John H.M. Gosden



Point of Entry

John Velazquez

Claude R. McGaughey III



Indy Point

Gary Stevens

Richard E. Mandella



Big Blue Kitten

Joe Bravo

Chad C. Brown




Ryan Moore

Aidan O'Brien



Real Solution

Javier Castellano

Chad C. Brown


$1,500,000 Breeders' Cup Sprint

Saturday, Race 10, 7:01 p.m. ET

6 furlings, dirt, 3-year-olds and older

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Justin Phillip John Velazquez Steven M. Asmussen 4-1
2 The Lumber Guy Mike Luzzi Michael E. Hushion 12-1
3 Gentlemen's Bet Javier Castellano Ron Moquett 8-1
4 Majestic Stride Edwin A. Maldonado Jeffrey L. Bonde 20-1
5 Sum of the Parts Leandro R. Goncalves Thomas M. Amoss 12-1
6 Bahamian Squall Luis Saez David Fawkes 10-1
7 Private Zone Martin A. Pedroza Doug F. O'Neill 3-1
8 Fast Bullet Joel Rosario D. Wayne Lukas 6-1
9 Secret Circle Martin Garcia Bob Baffert 4-1
10 Wine Police Enrique Portillo Gomez Henry Dominguez 30-1
11 Trinniberg Rajiv Maragh Bisnath Parbhoo 8-1
12 Laugh Track Mike Smith Mark E. Casse 20-1

$2 million Breeders' Cup Mile

Saturday, Race 11, 7:40 p.m. ET

1 mile on the turf for 3-year-olds and up 

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 No Jet Lag Mike Smith Simon Callaghan  8-1
2 Silentio Rafael Bejarano Gary Mandella  20-1
3 Silver Max Robby Albarado Dale Romans  5-1
4 Obviously Joe Talamo Mike Mitchell  10-1
5 Olympic Glory Richard Hughes Richard Hannon  4-1
6 Bright Thought Julien Leparoux Jorge Gutierrez  20-1
7 He Be Fire N Ice Victor Espinoza John W. Sadler  15-1
8 Wise Dan John Velazquez Charlie LoPresti  1-1
9 Cristoforo Colombo Ryan Moore Aiden O'Brien   15-1
10 Za Approval Joel Rosario Christophe Clement  15-1

$5 million Breeders' Cup Classic

Nov. 2, Santa Anita Park, Race 12, Post Time 8:35 p.m. ET

1 1/4 miles (Dirt), 3-year-olds and older

Post Horse Jockey Trainer Odds
1 Last Gunfighter Javier Castellano Chad C. Brown 20-1
2 Paynter Martin Garcia Bob Baffert 12-1
3 Planteur Ryan Moore Marco Botti 20-1
4 Moreno Joe Talamo Eric J. Guillot 15-1
5 Declaration of War Joseph O'Brien Aidan P. O'Brien 10-1
6 Mucho Macho Man Gary Stevens Kathy Ritvo 5-1
7 Fort Larned Brian Hernandez Ian R. Wilkes 6-1
8 Palace Malice  John Velazquez Todd A. Pletcher 10-1
9 Game On Dude Mike Smith Bob Baffert 5-1
10 Will Take Charge Louis Saez D. Wayne Lukas 12-1
11 Ron the Greek Jose Lezcano William I. Mott 8-1
12 Flat Out Joel Rosario William I. Mott 12-1
Image Description

David Hill

David Hill is a writer, an agitator, a comedian and a gambler. He grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas near the Oaklawn Park. Today he lives in New York City. Further reading at

Image Description

David Hill

David Hill is a writer, an agitator, a comedian and a gambler. He grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas near the Oaklawn Park. Today he lives in New York City. Further reading at

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