Building a Breeders’ Cup Betting Strategy Around Doubles, Pick 3s

Winning a bet on Breeders’ Cup weekend can be especially lucrative. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

It’s that wonderful time of the year again.

The Breeders’ Cup is just three weekends away, so it’s time to start your handicapping homework in hopes of heading home from the World Championships with an overstuffed wallet.

To start, let’s review last year.

Basically, anything is liable to happen when the world’s best horses get together in large, evenly matched fields, as reflected in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup.

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup was definitely a rough couple of days for chalk players as the 13 races produced only two winning favorites.

Beyond that, while there were a couple of huge upsets, with winners paying $62.40 and $135.40, the top three betting choices won more than half the races with seven wins out of 13 races.

So how do you put that to work for you?

You definitely need a game plan, so for today’s report let’s look at what happened with the horizontal or sequence wagers.

In the doubles, because of the large fields, there was tremendous value in some of them.

Since there was only one winning favorite per day, there were no chalk doubles. Yet twice there were doubles linking a favorite and the third choice and because of the large fields they paid a lot more than you would get from a similar wager on a typical Friday afternoon at your favorite track.

Consider that those favorite-and-third-favorite doubles, which you could bet with a ticket as low as $6 (1 x 3 at $2 each) paid $73.20 and $45.20. 

One double that mixed a pair of third choices and could be covered by 3 x 3 ticket for $18 paid a very generous $160.80.

One other double with a 9-2 favorite and a $30.40 winner returned $218, showing how wise it can be to key on one horse and then cover a lot of bases with it.

In breaking down the doubles, there were three huge payoffs to start the Saturday card after wins by Caledonia Road ($36.60), Stormy Liberal ($62.40) and Bar of Gold ($135.40). They were worth $934.30, $2,546.40 and $2,456.60.

Interestingly, the $2,456.60 payout combined Bar of Gold with third-choice Wuheida ($24.40), which underscores the value of a wheel, especially with a horse like Wuheida who had a very reasonable chance of winning.

With so many favorites going down to defeat, of the 11 doubles on Breeders’ Cup races, only three paid $85.20 or less. Five paid between $118.20 and $218, illustrating the value in betting the doubles.

The Pick 3, of course, had astronomical payoffs because of that stretch of longshots on Saturday. Two of the Pick 3s paid a gaudy $29,340.10 and $27,082.10 for a $1 bet.

Interestingly, the Pick 3 that started with Bar of Gold and ended with a pair of very logical third choices paid an incredible $9,903.40.

Other than that, the Pick 3s paid $725.40 or less.

But let’s look at it this way:

In the Breeders’ Cup Classic, let’s say the two horses to key on were Arrogate and Gun Runner. So, let’s build a Pick 3 ticket starting with them in the final leg. Now let’s add the top six betting choices in the first two races. That ticket would have been 6 x 6 x 2 for $72 and it would have cashed when Gun Runner, Talismanic ($30.20) and Good Magic ($25) took the final three races. The payoff? $707.40. Not bad at all, eh.

Even another sequence with a favorite and a second choice with a seventh choice splitting them came back with a generous $725.40 return.

For those who like to gamble, the Pick 4s did not disappoint. Two of them paid $2,375.90 and $1,217.15 for 50 cents, and the other returned $289,005.40, and no doubt required hitting the ALL button once or twice.

Those are payouts that are definitely impressive, yet don’t overlook how smaller, less risky wagers with attractive payoffs such as the Daily Double can also hold the key to a winning day or two at the races when you wager on the Breeders’ Cup.

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