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Breeders' Cup Wagering Guide: Pick 3s and Pick 4s

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I wanted to take a look at some of the payouts from past Breeders' Cup with a specific eye towards the Pick 3 and the Pick 4 wagers.  The Pick 6 is the big money bet of the day but most players don't have the bankroll to play that bet and give themselves a realistic chance of hitting it.  The Pick 3s and Pick 4s, however, are perfect for medium sized players looking to play multi-race wagers that have the chance to produce significant payouts. 

Let's take a look at each wager and how it's fared historically at the Breeders' Cup.

The Pick 3

The Breeders' Cup introduced the Pick 3 in 2002 at Arlington Park and it's become one of the more popular bets of the event.  This year's Cup will see the minimum amount drop to $0.50, allowing players to go deeper into the big fields that dominate the weekend.  Below are the average $2 Pick 3 payouts by year since 2002.

Year

Avg. $2 Pick 3

High

Low

2002

 $      1,432.00

 $      4,651.20

 $          361.60

2003

 $      2,507.38

 $      4,441.20

 $          759.00

2004

 $      2,791.13

 $      9,884.20

 $          474.00

2005

 $      2,100.83

 $      4,280.00

 $          252.00

2006

 $      4,379.23

 $      9,933.80

 $          384.00

2007

 $          530.97

 $      1,149.80

 $          332.80

2008

 $      1,591.64

 $    10,522.20

 $            52.60

2009

 $      2,947.42

 $    13,503.00

 $          352.40

 

With the exception of 2005 at Monmouth Park, the Pick 3 has been one of the best paying bets at the Breeders' Cup.  Check out some of those payouts on the high and low end of the scale. Typically, the lowest Pick 3 will still pay over $300 for $2.  Considering that many players are going to play the bet at anywhere from $20 to $40, that's a pretty decent return.  And if you're good enough to get a piece of one of the big ones...starting planning your vacation.

The Pick 4

The data for the Pick 4 is a bit smaller due to the fact that there are only one, two or three of those a year (until the last couple of years).  Still, it's easy to see from the historical payouts that if you can cash a Pick 4 wager you are most likely going to get paid. 

Below are the $2 payouts for all Pick 4s at the Breeders' Cup since the bet was introduced in 2002. (I summarized the data as $2 payouts due to the fact that the results charts switch back and forth from listing the payouts in $1 or $2 increments from year to year.  This way at least it's consistent.)

Year

 $2 Pick 4

2002

 $    16,349.30

2003

 $    19,603.80

2004

 $      3,130.20

 $    46,791.20

2005

 $    13,162.00

 $    17,303.00

2006

 $      6,945.40

 $    96,907.20

2007

 $      2,065.60

 $      3,013.00

2008

 $    12,572.40

 $      5,493.40

2009

 $      4,267.20

 $    73,077.80

 $      1,504.40

Average:

 $    21,479.06

Median:

 $    12,572.40

 

Even if you take those numbers and convert them to $1 payouts, you're looking at half of all Pick 4s paying over $6,000.  And other than the year at Monmouth, when payouts were on the low end of the scale, at least one Pick 4 comes back at $10,000-plus.  If you have the bankroll flexibility to take a big stab at this bet the payouts are usually excellent.

With the minimums dropping for both of these bets in 2010 expect to see a lot more players getting into this pools than we've seen in the past.