Handicapping Insights

Handicapper Dick Powell analyzes the Rainbow Pick 6.

FEBRUARY 22, 2013

by Dick Powell

Gulfstream Park's Rainbow Pick 6 has been getting a lot of attention lately as the jackpot has grown to more than $3.1 million. It is either the greatest thing that has ever happened to small bettors or the biggest sucker bet ever conceived. Let's call it the Tim Tebow of horse race betting.

The bet, which can be played in 10-cent increments, has a 20 percent takeout. If there is more than one winner, the bet carries over to the next racing day. But it still pays out if there are multiple winners of the six races. Forty percent of the 80 percent left after takeout is what gets carried over and 60 percent of the 80 percent is paid off to the multiple winners.

While it is true that the 20 percent takeout and the 40 percent of the 80 percent (32 percent) adds up to 52 percent takeout, that really isn't fair and not quite accurate. The 32 percent should have an asterisk attached to it since it will go back to the single, winning player; just not multiple players. It's not like the 32 percent goes to track operations, purses, state pari-mutuel taxes, etc. It doesn't come out of the pool but sits on the sidelines waiting for either a single winner or the last day of the meet when it has to be paid out.

What has intrigued me about the Rainbow 6 is how much it pays when there are multiple winners. In the beginning of the buildup of the carryover, it was hard to figure out why nearly every day the payout was many times higher than the parlay for the six winning horses.

On Monday, February 18, 2013, the Rainbow 6 paid $4,613.15 for 10 cents. While this doesn't sound like a lot of money, it would be $92,260.30 if it were a $2 bet. A total of $442,094 was bet into it chasing the multi-million dollar carryover. The winning payouts for the six races were: $4.80, $14.60, $9, $20, $4 and $16. Nothing way out of line.

The parlay for the six winning horses was $1,261. So the result was almost four times the parlay and this is not unusual.

What makes it hard to figure out is that, unlike a regular Pick 6, where the carryover pool affects the payoff when it is hit, the Rainbow Six's carryover is set aside and has no affect on the payoff for multiple winners.

Yet, it still pays consistently higher than the parlay. But here is what I think is happening. As the carryover grows, more bettors are taking swings at taking it down alone. In order to do this, the bettor has to play enough horses at long odds so that if they are right about the six winners, he/she have a big chance of hitting it by themselves.

It is the money that is chasing the lone winner that is creating enough losing money that affects the payoff for multiple winners. What I have been doing is trying to hit the multiple-winner payoff without investing a lot of money. At 10-cent increments, you can cover a lot of horses for under $50. You're not going to have a life-changing score but it gives the small player a tremendous opportunity to beat the big guys. There's nothing wrong with a 2,000 percent return on investment and nothing is stopping you from betting more than 10-cent increments.

Now that the carryover is up to $3.1 million and growing, the chances of a lone winner decreases. Daily pool sizes are consistently mid-six figures and that has created more than enough coverage to generate multiple winners. There have been a few days recently where there were horses alive in the last leg to produce a lone winner but they have been huge longshots with little chance of winning. Not saying it can't happen but it's very unlikely.

There are 31 days of racing left in the meet so the pool could grow a lot higher. Unlike a normal Pick 6, the growth of betting on it each day chasing the carryover does not grow exponentially. I can't see the daily wagering getting much higher than it is now and that should add more than $100,000 to the carryover pool each day. When it gets to closing day on April 5, who knows how much money will be bet with the mandatory payoff.

But for now, the Rainbow 6 is a terrific bet if you want to take advantage of the unique nature of the bet.