Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Agony of the Pick 4

With no handicapping contests on the docket until late May, I have been dabbling with Pick 4 plays on the occasional free evening, specifically from -- of all places -- little-known Evangeline Downs.  (Yes, a Carlos Marquez rides there, but not the one from Monmouth Park).  My process has proven penny-wise, pound foolish, as I have missed out on some robust scores by limiting myself to tickets $12 or less, but I have at least enjoyed the agony and recognize I'm halfway decent at identifying longer prices.  Call me a masochist.

"Ils sont partis!"
The experience has been largely enjoyable but financially frustrating, focusing on the late Pick 4s from this Louisiana "racino."  The deep fields (often 14 horses), robust payouts and inexpensive 50-cent plays are right in my wheelhouse, but I am teetering on the brink having hit 3-of-4 in my last three efforts, two of which I was beaten at the wire and one of which (where I got knocked out in the third leg) paid over $2,000 on a 50-cent base wager!

The mishap tonight occurred when my horse, Tigeresque, lost a stretch duel in the nightcap to 8-to-5 Carolyns Kitten (with a 2% winning jockey on 88 mounts in 2011), so I missed out on a probable $216 payout on my $12 ticket (3x4x1x2).

The most difficult pill to swallow is that none of the winning horses in the Pick 4 on Wednesday evening paid out more than $8.40 to win (winners, in order, paid $8.40, $8.40, $4 and $5.60, suggesting that whomever makes the morning line has no clue)!  The winners were posted at respective lines of 30-to-1, 8-to-1, 5-to-2 and 15-to-1.  In the end, winning Pick 4 players scored a robust $425.55 for a 50-cent ticket on what proved to be four pretty chalky horses!  Not too shabby...and I can't complain, considering the horse that beat me was one that I threw out, so it's not one that I considered but was too cheap to add to my ticket.

Anyway, I hope to be able to hit one of these in the weeks to come, but if nothing else, I am learning how difficult and humbling it can be as a hobbyist handicapper.  In the meantime, I would encourage others to at least look into Evangeline, considering the depth of fields and lucrative Pick 3 and 4 payouts.  I know I have been having a blast with Evangeline's late Pick 4, though my blood pressure might disagree.

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