The Pick 6 can be the most lucrative wager in horse racing.
It can also be the most expensive.
That paradox succinctly explains why the wager can be tilted in favor of handicappers with larger bankrolls. Given how quickly combinations can add up, the $2 bettor cannot keep pace with players who can wager $300 or $500 without blinking an eye.
Syndicates can help small players compete, but there are times when even the $2 player can take a stab at a Pick 6.
What matters here is finding the right spot.
A day with a carryover is definitely one of those times. This way, with added money in the pool, the payoff will be higher than usual, making the wager more practical.
Also, try to avoid a Pick 6 with a $2 minimum wager. While a 20-cent Pick 6 has a smaller payoff because a portion of the pool goes into the Jackpot carryover if there is more than one winning ticket, that base price allows players to include more horses without assembling a gargantuan ticket.
Yet aside from financial considerations, handicappers should seek cards in which they have strong feelings about several of the races.
Realistically, players with limited bankrolls should not dive in unless they find three races when they can single a horse. This way they can go deep in the other races and come away with a reasonably priced ticket.
If you buy a ticket with two horses selected in each race, a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 ticket, that gives you a $128 ticket (on a $2 bet; $12.80 on a 20-cent bet) with a small margin for error.
Yet if you bought a 1 x 4 x 1 x 4 x 1 x 4 ticket, it would cost the same amount of money but it would also give you more coverage in half the races which could be the difference between cashing and trashing.
And it’s not unreasonable to believe you could bet on the favorite or second choice in three races and still cash a huge ticket.
There was recently a Pick 6 at Del Mar, boosted by a Jackpot carryover of $132,216, that paid $207,461 to the holder of the lone winning ticket. From the sound of that payoff, the logical thought would be that it featured at least four or five longshots. Truth be told, four of the winners in that sequence paid $8.40 or less.
The other two winners were longshots, but they were hardly unfathomable, paying $13.40 and $24.20. It’s certainly not a given that the 1 x 4 x 1 x 4 x 1 x 4 approach would have been the key to success on that day, but it’s surely within the realm of possibility.
So as much as a Pick 6 can be utterly imposing, cutting the monster in half and reducing it to a Pick 3 can be a way to take a stab at a life-altering score without depleting your bank account.