Trying to hit a Jackpot Pick 6 is a nearly impossible task for most handicappers.
Hitting six winners is a formidable enough challenge, but when you hope to have the lone winning ticket so you can take home a treasure chest of cash, that quest for a one-in-a-million ticket takes the odds of hitting the wager into a different stratosphere. Unless, of course, you have an extremely lucky birthdate or some other important six-figure number in your life.
Yet that same wager takes on a much more alluring look on those days when there’s a mandatory payoff of the jackpot, meaning all of the money carried over from previous days when there was not a single winner will be distributed among all of the winning tickets and the payoff will be inflated.
You still need to be on top of your game to wind up with all six winners on the same ticket, but at least the higher than normal payoff will make the chase worth your time, effort, and dollars.
To illustrate that point, let’s look at the Oct. 6 card at Belmont Park when there was a mandatory payoff in the Empire 6 jackpot wager.
With the help of $725,823 which was carried over from previous days when there was not a single winning ticket, the pool swelled to slightly more than $3.2 million and there was a generous payoff.
With winners that paid $38.60, $14, $3.90, $2.40, $7.90 and $10 the return from a mere 20-cent wager was $6,493.70. Not bad at all considering that two of the winners paid less than even-money.
Keeping in mind that the Pick 5, comprised of the final five races in the Pick 6, paid $437 for a 50-cent bet, the key to success in the Empire 6 was clearly the first leg when All Over the Map recorded an 18-1 upset. Which bring us to another lesson.
It has been mentioned here in the past that horses dropping from a maiden special weight (MSW) race into a claimer for the first time deserve special attention, and that was the key angle with All Over the Map.
After two MSW starts, the 2-year-old filly was dropped into a $50,000 claimer, which brought out the best in her.
Yet there was more at play than just the class drop which made her an intriguing longshot to add to your Pick 6 ticket. Even though she lost by 22 lengths and then 26 ½ lengths in those two starts, both could easily be discounted.
In her debut at Indiana Grand, the New York-bred was sent off at 7-2 odds, indicating there was some sort of a buzz about her. But when the starting gates opened, she was squeezed back and trailed by 14 lengths after the opening quarter-mile. Given that she trailed by that much in the early stages of a 5 ½-furlong sprint, it was hardly surprising that she never fired and finished ninth.
She was then shipped to trainer Raymond Handal in New York and was entered in a state-bred race on the turf. Rain washed out that plan as the race was moved to the sloppy main track where she broke fine, was fourth early on and faded to sixth.
Mix what was learned from those two starts and there was no indication of how she would fare if she broke well on fast track, like the one she raced on in her initial try in a claimer. Given the dry track, it was reasonable to believe she could disappoint like an 18-1 shot, or thrive on a fast surface and perform like a 2-1 favorite.
If you were 50-50 on her form, getting a switch to Joel Rosario, one of New York’s top riders, plus the class drop might have convinced you to add her as a longshot on some of those 20-cent Empire 6 tickets.
And if you went deep in that race and included All Over the Map, you were right on target and off to a great start in the Empire 6.
Breaking smoothly on the fast track, All Over the Map grabbed the early lead and stayed there the rest of the way, pulling away in the stretch to win by six lengths.
Hitting the rest of the sequence was hardly a given, but in this instance some savvy handicapping and the lure of a carryover certainly had the potential to be highly rewarding.