Its not easy finding people that made money wagering on the Kentucky Derby this year. That’s what a 50-1 longshot will do. But Michael Cusortelli of Albuquerque, New Mexico sent me an e-mail with the following inclusion:
“By the way, I hit the Oaks/Derby double, but only because:
a) the Oaks was won by arguably the best 3-year-old filly of our generation (a single) and
b) the beauty and convenience of the "all" button
Keep in mind, though, it doesn't always work this way. I can't tell you how many times I've hit the all button, only to have the favorite win.”
A $2.00 win ticket on Mine That Bird paid $103.40. A $2.00 win ticket on Rachel Alexandra, the heavily favored winner of the gr. 1 Kentucky Oaks run the previous day at Churchill Downs for fillies, paid $2.60. The $2.00 Oaks/Derby Double ticket paid $248.40.
So what kind of crazy, whacky complicated wagering system gave Mr. Cusortelli this big pay-off. Well, it’s neither crazy, whacky or complicated. And it’s as old as the daily double wager itself.
First, let’s define what the daily double wager is. The objective of the Daily Double bet is to pick the winners of two separate races. Back as recent as the 1980s, most tracks in North America offered only win, place, show and a daily double on the first two races. Today there are early doubles, late doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s Pick 6s… you name it. And Churchill Downs has the Oaks/Derby double where players try to pick the winner of the Kentucky Oaks with the winner of the Kentucky Derby on the same ticket.
A common and effective strategy with any exotic wager (a wager with two or more horses involved) is to find one horse that you think can win one race and play that horse with two or more horses in the other race. It’s called a “wheel.” And while the other wheel was perhaps man’s greatest invention, this wheel isn’t that bad either.
All Mike did was “key” Rachel Alexandra in the Kentucky Oaks and wheel her with every horse in the Derby. Then hope the heavily favored Rachel Alexandra wins the Oaks like she’s supposed to and pull for any longshot two win the Run for the Roses. Since this is technically 19 different daily double tickets, (because there were 19 horses in the Derby), the cost was $38.00. Nineteen Derby horses times $2.00 = $38.
The risks: Rachel Alexandra gets upset in the Oaks or one of the favorites wins the Derby. If one of the favorites win the Derby and the Oaks/Derby Double pays less than $38 it’s a loss.
But as Mike mentioned above, Rachel Alexandra ran like she is arguably one of the best fillies (a female horse less than 5 years old) of our generation. Mine That Bird didn’t run like a 50-1 shot and Mike got to watch a mutuel teller at the track count out $248.40 for him before he went home Saturday night.
And the beauty is there are variations of this strategy that are just as easy. You can use your one key horse in one half of the double with any number of horses in the second. Or you can use a key horse in the second half with any number of horses in the first. You can also have more than one key horse – key two horses in the first race with five horses in the second for example. The cost is easy to calculate (2 horses in one half x 5 horses in the other half x $2 = $20.) And when you key or box in any bet, the $1 ticket becomes available. So the above example costs $10.
This is just another example that illustrates the beauty of betting on horse racing. A little knowledge about something as simple as odds and the “wheel” strategy can pay-off.