Monday, August 05, 2013

Pick 5 is Alive

While in ‘park’ for 45 minutes on I-295 as a medevac propelled a stricken motorcyclist to a hospital, I thought of Cross Traffic. A maddening afternoon for the maddening times we bet in.

While in ‘park’, again, this time for only 25 minutes, at mile marker 78.9 on the New York Thruway heading north as some sort of big rig smoldered, Mrs. Carryover handed me her 4G LTE Smart Phone and I perused some headlines. They all seemed boring, which, I must add, wasn’t helping my cause and systolic blood pressure. The roadside flares burned on.

But, hark, there was headline befitting of you crazy horse player types: NYRA to Launch Pick 5 Wager in Fall.

I suppose that’s the second-best time to launch a new, possibly lucrative bet, the first being the Old Gray Mare that is Saratoga. The provisions of the Pick 5 wager are awfully inviting to the multi-race exotic purveyor … or cheapskates, sorry, “value hunters.” Minimum wager is 50 cents that goes counter to its, dare I say, high-brow Pick 6 brother, the one who requires a $2 minimum, a New York City penthouse, and, perhaps, a penchant for the trenchant.

The Pick 5 will also have 15 percent as its takeout. I also imagine there is no carryover.

The Pick 5 is boxed wine, a nice nozzle to pour a glass of Franzia white zinfindel. The Pick 5 is cutoff-tee shirt-guy-playing-$5 minimum-black-jack-at-MGM Grand. The Pick 5 eats McRibs. The Pick 5 rarely showers. The Pick 5 attends Cowtown Rodeos.

Part of the worry since this plan was put to the commission at the end of May had to have been the potential “cannibalization” of the Pick 6 pool. But when they realized, one can imagine, that they need to pull of a pyramid scheme just to afford a playable set of Pick 6 tickets, that potential “cannibalization” is a non-threat, or, in horse racing terms, Alpha.

The Pick 6 maintains its high entry level, high threshold, and high degree of difficulty as its charm for the Steve Crist’s of the world. It is, as Crist puts it in his book Exotic Betting, and I’m paraphrasing, the Mecca for horse players.

The Pick 5 and Pick 6 run together, though they don’t run in the same circles. The Pick 5 may act as the gateway drug for the Pick 6 and allow for one person to comfortably go wide enough to include, say, Cross Traffic over Fort Larned. (For Cross Traffic, the buck stops at nine furlongs. Ha-cha-cha. Dirt Mile for him, no? Almost forgot Mr. Pletcher trains some older horses.)

For those playing Pick 6 tickets, God bless you, the Pick 5 could be a way to hedge. Or vice versa. Imagine going wide with your Pick 5, but hedging with the Pick 6 with fewer horses. Maybe this makes no sense, but I have to think there are some folks who subscribe to handicapping that can make them work in tandem and not as foes. It’s Harvey Two-Face, without the need for skin grafting and vendettic (coined that word. Boom!) bloodlust.

It’s nice to see the N.Y.R.A expand its betting buffet. There’s a poor man’s option for just about every other bet: 50-cent Pick 4s, Dime Supers, eating Carolina BBQ, so the Pick 5 is the alternative to the Pick 6.

Hopefully NYRA’s tote system handles it just fine as it enters the Fall Championship meet at Belmont Park. With the buzz of the Breeders’ Cup on the horizon, a new wager adds more pep to Gotham and beyond.

So, go on, have yourself a generic soda pop, and tear open that box o’ wine, the Pick 5 awaits you. Stay affordably thirsty, my friends.

Written by Brendan O'Meara

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