Breaking the Bank: A New Top Longshot


Breaking the Bank - featuring data courtesy of Equibase - highlights the biggest scores of the past week in racing. (Photo by Penelope P. Miller/America's Best racing)

There was no shortage of longshots and massive payouts this week, but let’s start with the horse that established a new benchmark for the top $2 win return for 2014.

Big Budget, a 5-year-old Langfuhr gelding, struck at 85.30-to-1 odds on May 26 at Presque Isle Downs in his first start in more than 15 months. If you were lucky/smart enough to drop two bucks on him, you cashed a ticket for $172.60.

Big Budget had not finished in the top three in his previous nine races before winning at Presque Isle off the long layoff, but what is most interesting (to me, at least) is that this was his first attempt on a synthetic surface.

For pedigree players out there, Big Budget probably would have been a horse to strongly consider taking a flier on if you could get past the long layoff.

His sire, Langfuhr, has been especially successful with runners on synthetic surfaces. He ranks 28th on the general sire list for all-weather surfaces in 2014. Langfuhr was 29th on the general sire list for synthetics in 2013 and 21st in 2012. In each case, this marked an improvement from his ranking on the overall general sire list.

Not only that, but Big Budget enjoyed success on the grass earlier in his career. He won a $20,000 claiming race on the grass at Monmouth Park in July 2012 and this race was a much-lower $5,000 claiming race. Big Budget posted his career-top Equibase Speed Figure of 90 three different times, two of which came on the grass.

Knowing that his best previous performances came on the grass, which often translates to success on synthetic surfaces, and that his sire is especially productive with synthetic runners would have made Big Budget far more enticing. He also was cutting back in distance from a string of five races that were a mile or longer to 5 ½ furlongs. His one sprint during the losing streak, a six-furlong race in September 2012, produced the best Equibase Speed Figure (82) during the skid.

As a pedigree enthusiast, I can almost guarantee that, had I been there, I would have looked down at my program after Big Budget won at 85.30-to-1 and spent the next hour agonizing over the fact that I didn’t connect the dots.

If you had money on Big Budget, congratulations! You earned it.

The $2 Pick 6 at Belmont Park on May 30 (Races 4-9) featured only one horse that won at double-digit odds yet still paid $186,490. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at big Pick 6 paydays in recent posts and concluded that if you have the money to make a significant investment in this wager, a life-changing score is within reach. Unfortunately, I don’t have much of a bankroll, and I think a lot of our readers probably have limited budgets as well. So let’s explore a couple of other big returns this week on bets that might not have required a huge investment.

The reported $2 superfecta return for Race 8 at Indiana Grand Race Course (the artist formerly known as Indiana Downs) on May 31 was $148,973.40. In this case, the pool for the bet was only $9,508, so we can easily deduce that the winning ticket for this superfecta was a $7,448.67 winner for the 10-cent minimum bet.

After doing the math, we see that this was not the biggest return on investment for a superfecta for the week ended June 1. That honor belonged to Race 9 on May 30 at Charles Town Races, where one lucky bettor cashed a 10-cent superfecta that returned $10,234.31. I think we know who bought drinks that night!

This race – a 6 ½-furlonhg maiden claiming race - was won by 62.40-to-1 longshot Star Ellen, a Civilisation filly who was unplaced in six previous races, all at Charles Town. Star Ellen was followed across the finish line by runner-up Harley Hill Lady at 9.10-to-1, third-place finisher Springmeadowchichi at 7.20-to-1 and I’m in a Mood in fourth at 3.20-to-1. With a $126.80 winner plus 3-to-2 favorite Dicolas Dynasty off the board, it’s clear why there was only one winning ticket. It’s also easy to see why the $1 trifecta for the same race paid a cool $20,129.40.

That trifecta ranked first on the table below for a $1 bet, but in terms of bang for your betting buck, Race 3 at Evangeline Downs on May 28 has that trifecta trumped. For a 50-cent bet, the payout was a remarkable $10,842.55.

(continued below the table)

Top Payouts for the week ended June 1
Wager  Wager Amount   Payoff  Track Date Race#
Win  $2.00  $172.60 PID 5/26/14 2
Place  $2.00  $61.40 SA 5/31/14 6
Show  $2.00  $24.80 MNR 5/27/14 1
Exacta  $1.00  $373.30 EMD 5/26/14 6
Exacta  $2.00  $4,068.00 EVD 5/28/14 3
Quinella  $2.00  $255.00 MD 5/30/14 6
Trifecta  $0.50  $10,842.55 EVD 5/28/14 3
Trifecta  $1.00  $20,129.40 CT 5/30/14 9
Trifecta  $2.00  $9,521.80 PID 5/26/14 2
Superfecta  $0.10  $10,234.31 CT 5/30/14 9
Superfecta  $0.50  $5,112.70 EMD 5/30/14 3
Superfecta  $1.00  $62,463.90 CBY 5/26/14 5
Superfecta  $2.00  $148,973.40 IND 5/31/14 8
Daily Double  $1.00  $268.10 DEL 5/28/14 7
Daily Double  $2.00  $2,836.80 EVD 5/31/14 5
Pick 3  $0.50  $1,190.85 PIM 5/30/14 7
Pick 3  $1.00  $4,306.30 GP 6/1/14 8
Pick 3  $2.00  $6,022.60 IND 5/31/14 8
Pick 4  $0.50  $8,477.40 CT 5/28/14 5
Pick 4  $1.00  $27,610.60 GP 6/1/14 8
Pick 4  $2.00  $32,353.00 BEL 5/29/14 9
Pick 5  $0.50  $23,038.55 GP 6/1/14 8
Pick 5  $1.00  $2,547.10 NP 5/31/14 5
Pick 5  $2.00  $27,141.80 MNR 6/1/14 9
Pick 5 Jackpot  $0.50  $2,637.00 LAD 5/29/14 8
Pick 6  $0.20  $24,244.60 LS 5/31/14 9
Pick 6  $0.50  $6,092.20 CD 5/26/14 10
Pick 6  $1.00  $5,959.90 AP 5/29/14 9
Pick 6  $2.00  $186,490.00 BEL 5/30/14 9
Pick 6 Jackpot  $0.10  $5,440.99 CRC 5/30/14 8
Pick 6 Jackpot  $0.20  $12,796.04 GP 5/26/14 10
Super High Five  $0.10  $327.46 LS 6/1/14 9
Super High Five  $1.00  $10,487.80 FE 6/1/14 8
Super High Five  $2.00  $16,270.80 MNR 5/28/14 9
Click here for a complete list of racetracks with abbreviations.

© 2014 Equibase Company LLC, all rights reserved. Data provided or compiled by Equibase Company LLC generally is accurate, but occasionally errors and omissions occur as a result of incorrect data received by others, mistakes in processing and other causes. Equibase Company LLC disclaims responsibility for the consequences, if any, of such errors, but would appreciate their being called to their attention.  

The fireworks for this six-furlong, maiden-claiming race were sparked by a one-two finish from 24.40-to-1 Madelyn’s Wild Max and 62.60-to-1 bomb Big Top Special, who edged 5.10-to-1 Only Alec by a neck.

As you might expect, Big Top Special overhauling Only Alec late also bolstered the exacta payout: $4,068 for a $2 winning ticket.

I also found it pretty fascinating that Big Top Special was only the third-longest shot on the board for that race at Evangeline. Pic the Pain and Unk’s Red Man both were unplaced in the 12-horse field at odds of 188.40-to-1 and 122.20-to-1, respectively.

If you are in New York to witness California Chrome’s bid in Saturday’s $1.5-million Belmont Stakes to become U.S. Thoroughbred racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner. Enjoy!

As most of you know, Belmont Park has put together an outstanding undercard for the final jewel of the Triple Crown, so there is also a golden opportunity to cash some nice tickets as well. Whether you are at Belmont Park or watching and betting from home or your local racetrack, best of luck. 

Commonly Used Gambling Terms

Account wagering – Betting by internet or phone, in which a bettor must open an account and deposit money with which to bet.

Across the board – A bet on a horse to win, place and show. If the horse wins, the player collects three ways; if second, two ways; and if third, one way, losing the win and place bets. Actually, three bets.

Bounce – An especially poor performance on the heels of an especially good one.

Box – A betting term denoting a combination bet whereby all possible numeric combinations are covered for certain horses.

Bridge jumper – A person who wagers large amounts of money, usually on short- priced horses to show, hoping to realize a small but almost certain profit. The term comes from the structure those bettors may seek if they lose the bet.

Chalk – Betting favorite in a race.

Chalk player – Gambler who wagers on favorites.

Daily Double (or Double) – Type of bet calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races.

Exacta – A wager in which the first two finishers in a race, in exact order of finish, must be picked.

Exacta box – A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are selected.

Exotic (bet) – Any bet other than win, place, or show that requires multiple combinations. Examples of exotic wagers are trifecta, Pick 6, Pick 4.

Handle – Amount of money wagered in the pari-mutuel system on a race, full day of races, or entire racing season at a track.

In the money – A horse that finishes first, second or third.

Key horse – A single horse used in multiple combinations in an exotic bet.

Morning line – The starting odds set by the track handicapper.

On the board – Finishing among the first three.

On the nose – Betting a horse to win only.

Overlay – A horse whose odds are greater than its potential to win.

Pari-mutuel – System of wagering where all the money is returned to the bettors after deduction of track and state percentages.

Parlay – A multi-race bet in which all winnings are subsequently wagered on a succeeding race.

Part wheel – Using a key horse or horses in different, but not all possible, exotic wagering combinations.

Pick (6 or other number) – A type of multi-race bet in which the winners of all the included races must be selected. Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, Pick 6 are commonly used by tracks in the United States.

Place bet – A bet on a horse to finish first or second.

Quinella - Bet in which the first two finishers must be picked in either order.

Show bet – A bet on a horse to finish in the money; third or better.

Speed Figure – A metric that rates a horse’s performance in a race, which is determined by a combination of the horse’s performance and the level of competition he/she competed against.

Trifecta – A bet in which the first three finishers must be selected in exact order.

Trifecta box – A trifecta wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are bet upon.

Underlay – Horse whose odds are more promising than his potential to win.

Win – A bet on a horse to finish first.

Wheel – Betting all possible combinations in an exotic wager using at least one horse as the key.

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