Welcoming Newcomers to Horse Racing with the Group Parlay Bet

A group trip to the horse races in the springtime is the perfect opportunity to introduce potential fans to the sport. (Eclipse Sportswire)

One of the most popular simulcast signals in Las Vegas is from Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. I had many chances to go to Keeneland during my time as the public relations director at Turfway Park. It was always nice to take a busman’s holiday to Lexington.

One thing you notice about Keeneland is the crowd is a lot younger. Much of that has to do with the University of Kentucky being in Lexington. There are also other colleges not too far away. And after a typically rough Kentucky winter, folks are just dying to do something fun outdoors.

Keeneland in the springtime has always been a great opportunity to introduce horse racing to younger audience. And it’s normal to go with a group of people.

When I wrote “Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies,” one topic I covered was betting as a group to make it more fun for newcomers, potentially profitable and less expensive.

On page 52, I wrote about making a group parlay bet. For example, say you go to the races with a group of four people. Let’s assume that the other three are novices that don’t know how to handicap.

A good way to give them a chance to participate is starting a simple show parlay.

A parlay basically is making a bet and, if you win, reinvesting the money into another similar bet. Most horse racing parlays involve the win, place and show pools. The show parlay is the most popular because a show bet is the easiest bet to win at the racetrack.

The group parlays that I have organized start with an initial investment that each person puts into the pot. For easy math, let’s make it $5 a person, so with four people your pot begins with $20.  

Each person, in order, gets a race to pick one horse to use. You can interject as much or as little teaching as you want, but the most important thing is to keep it fun.

If the parlay lives, the math is pretty simple race by race. Just think in terms of compound interest in banking.

Again, to keep the math simple, say every horse in your parlay paid $3.00 to show. If your first bet was $20, then it would grow to $30. Reinvest, and the next win would make it $45. Bet again and win and the total would grow to $67.50. You get the drift.

If you were lucky enough to win eight for eight show bets at $3.00 each, your original $20 pot would have grown to $510. I would think that’s enough winning to impress any newcomer.

Here are a couple of handicapping tips, without getting too cerebral. If you can find a logical entry, meaning you get two horses for the price of one, those are solid plays in a show parlay. The reason being is you need just one of the two horses to run a good race. And if both horses can finish in the money, the show price could end up being pretty generous.

Lastly, it’s really not a good idea to pick huge longshots when trying this, thinking that you need a big show price to juice up the parlay. The chances of finishing out of the money and thus ending the parlay are high. The better strategy is steady as she goes. It’s like the NCAA basketball tournament mantra, survive and advance. The track doesn’t pay you extra for style points.

Richard Eng is the author of “Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies”, an introductory book for newcomers to the sport of horse racing.  For two decades, he was the turf editor and handicapper for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He still handicaps the Southern California tracks and his picks are for sale at www.racedaylasvegas.com. You can email him at rich_eng@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @richeng4propick and on Facebook.com.

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