The Pick 5 is a wager that seems to be growing in popularity. California has it's 14% takeout Player's Pick 5. NYRA, after months, if not years, of pressure from horseplayers, will be introducing a 15% takeout Pick 5 come the start of the Belmont Park autumn meet. Louisiana Downs has a Jackpot Pick 5 that paid one lucky bettor $889,726 a few weeks ago. People like the Pick 5.
Here in Ontario, we have one track that offers the popular wager, and it's not our beloved Woodbine. Fort Erie Race Track offers a $.20 Pick 5. You get about $3,000 in the pool on Sundays and anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000 on Tuesdays. If no one comes up with all 5, you get an okay little 4/5 payout.
At least that's how it was until last Tuesday.
On August 13th, Fort Erie changed the wager a bit. They got rid of the annoying $.20 minimum that has been diluting multi-race wager payouts in Ontario for a while and upped it to $1. Instead of paying to 4/5 if no one could complete the sequence, a 100% carryover (after takeout it's actually a 73.4% carryover after takeout) would be added to the next day's pool. Fort Erie started experimenting with carryover wagers last year when they introduced a $1 Super High 5. This kind of wager doesn't work according to WEG, who discontinued their last carryover wager, the Pick 6, in 2011, despite constant requests from bettors for a Pick 5 or Pick 6 to be added to the wagering menu. Apparently the $.20 guaranteed pool Pick 4 isn't the most satisfying bet on the market.
But I digress.
Fort Erie has had three days of this new Pick 5, and the results have proven very positive. On Tuesday, August 13th $4,976 was bet into the pool. A bit lower than a usual Tuesday, but no one hit and $3,672 was added to Sunday's pool. That added money stimulated a bit of new interest, as $4,270 of new money was bet, up from a standard Sunday. No one hit again. Then on August 20th, another one of Fort Erie's very popular Twilight cards, there was a $6,823 carryover. The bettors jumped all over that and bet $43,402 into the pool. That's a terrific pool considering that this is Fort Erie we're talking. Not only that, a few lucky players hit for a payoff of $11,051.80. That should keep them coming back for a while. The win payouts of the 5 that made up the sequence were $14.70, $8.40, $9.80, $15.10, and $6.50. Challenging, but far from impossible.
While other tracks in Ontario are sticking with $.20 minimums that are doing more harm than good, Fort Erie has taken a positive step forward to create more interest and handle. Although the takeout is a bit too high, that's a problem that's plagued all of Ontario racing. I think it's safe to say that at the moment, the Fort Erie Pick 5 is the best bet in Ontario racing.