Rainbow 6 can be good bet for recreational horseplayers

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So when Gulfstream Park began its Rainbow 6 jackpot wager in 2011, it has been copied by other tracks in some way, shape or form.

Full credit for the original idea goes to the old Beulah Park in Ohio.

A jackpot wager in horse racing is now defined by a carry-over pool that gets paid out in full only with a unique winning ticket. What strengthens the attraction are low bet minimums, such as 10 or 20 cents.

Low bet minimums allow all horseplayers the chance to get involved regardless of the size of their bankroll.

Tracks now offer it on a Pick 5 wager as well. Bottom line, read the rules before jumping in.

What got me going on this was in reading a Gulfstream Park news release in which two recent Rainbow 6 winners cashed big while spending less than $35.

On Dec. 19, a New York bettor won $242,469 with a $12.80 ticket. Then on Saturday, a Portland, Ore., bettor won $317,161 with a $33.60 ducat.

The thing that struck me was the Oregon player singled a 48-1 price horse, Noble Prince, who won and paid $98.20. I don’t know about you, but if I single a 5-1 odds horse, I’m feeling pretty frisky.

But to cash a unique ticket in the Rainbow 6, you will need big-priced horses. This eliminates other horseplayers from contention.

On May 24, Daniel Borislow won $6,678,939 when he hit the jackpot on the penultimate day of the Gulfstream meet.

Borislow had reasoned, correctly, that most horseplayers would be focused on the final day of the meet when the pool had to be paid out. He thought that with less handle in the pool the day before closing would be his best prospect.

He bought two near identical tickets, each costing $7,603. What he did was bet all horses in five races and use four more horses, two on each ticket, in one race.

Sadly enough, Borislow died July 21 of a heart attack. The axiom that all the money in the world can’t buy you good health was proven true again.

Is the Rainbow 6 a good bet for people like you and me? I would say yes, if the carry-over is rich enough. Andrew Beyer of the Washington Post and Daily Racing Form has labeled it a “sucker bet” because of the high takeout.

What Beyer referred to was a 20 percent takeout from the start plus 30 percent that gets carried over each day there is not a unique winner.

I would disagree, and here’s why. The advantage of a multi-race wager is you get hit by takeout once. In this case, once versus six times.

With the focus on a unique ticket, many players will include lots of long shots hoping that this is their day. That inflates the cost of tickets, thus adding even more value to the pool.

If you played a smaller ticket using logical horses, a win in nearly all cases would pay way more than a standard win parlay on those six horses.

So I’m on the side of it’s a good bet when the carry-over is high enough. Just remember what legendary businessman Bernard Baruch once said: “I never lost money by turning a profit.”

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.

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