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The courage to win
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

There is a lesson to be learned about playing “Pick” races from the Monday, Jan. 20, 50-cent Pick 5 at Yonkers. The two-program carryover attracted a lot of money and the pot ballooned with the $25,000 guaranteed pool and, as Frank Drucker call it, “a shipment of $32,105 in fresh money.”

The winning horses were, approximately, at 3-1, 2-1, 1-2, 8-1 and 20-1. The pool was taken down and the Pick-5 paid $5,741.25 per ticket (the number of winners was not reported to my knowledge).

That price is terrific for such an exotic wager and it only took some courage to be one of the winners. By courage, I do not mean hitting the “all” button, so to speak, in the final two legs. Those two races offered strict possibilities for the outsiders that won; they were both contenders. But few people took a chance with them in the individual race’s win pools and the exotic pool.

This is not 20-20 hindsight. In leg four, the horse that became the favorite was a soft favorite and he left from post 8. The three horses that lighted the toteboard were, respectively, 8-1, 4-1 and 8-1 and all of them were contenders. Yet, so few players went with them.

The final leg offered a 20-1 shot that made some sense as an outside contender, but the crowd, I must assume, put excess support on another horse due to the driver, making it the favorite.

It takes courage to build a Pick ticket and dismiss horses that most players will back, but that is, as this payoff once again proves, the key to big profits. Though I don’t know if the winning tickets included “alls” in the configuration or if someone played a ticket based upon the first five numbers associated with his or her phone number, the case I make holds true.

If you are going to play a Pick ticket, why would you include all of the probable (and they are predictable) favorites? If that ticket comes out, you will be left with either a loss or a meager profit. So when I use the word “courage,” I mean  the quality of spirit that motivates a person to face the pain of defeat, being fearless to do so.

Last week I was engaged in the Buffalo Raceway Pick-5 and my courage produced a losing ticket. However, I included and won a leg with the highest-paying of the five winning horses. That winner paid only $10.80; the rest were public choices. The Pick-5 paid only $178. I could have been—-and I have been in the past—-the recipient of a huge score based on my other picks. How many $178 Pick races do I need to win and lose to get me a five-digit payoff like the one at Yonkers?

All I need is courage to bury the number.


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Editor's Note: The views contained in this article are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.
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