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Why Does North American Racing Rest on the Hit and Hope of Exotics?

"Bet a little to win a lot", is a phrase you'll often hear here in North America when it comes to wagering on the horse races. It's a good sell, because anyone who has taken a four horse tri box and landed three longshots knows that it's true. But this concept is not one which crosses borders, in old-school racing jurisdictions.

In the US, only about 20% of total wagering is in the win pool. In Australia about 50% of all wagering is in the win pool. In the UK it is not dissimilar.

Yep, these folks bet more than half of every dollar in those pools.


In those countries, wagering a little to win a little is the goal for a lot of big players, with the obvious hope that at the end of the year you have more money than you started with.

Why is win money so well bet in those jurisdictions? I have a few theories.
  • It's a more mature gambling market. Win takeouts are low, and choosing a winner (and betting a sizeable chunk of bankroll, like 4%), pays dividends over time. If you're good, you win, and the win market is the best place to exploit your handicapping skill. This is learned over time in a mature market.
  • Field size is much higher than in the US. Why would you concentrate on a pick 3 when you have a 15 horse field in front of you and the horse you like is a 5-1 favorite? Bet your 3% on him or her, grab the $12 mutuel, and look for your next nice priced horse; it's probably in the next race. 
  • Choice. You have the tote, the bookies and the exchanges. You have three points of entry into a market, not only one. Cars make more than one brand because more than one brand sells more cars. 
  • The odds don't change after the bell. You handicapped all evening and made your odds lines. You love the three at Monmouth at anything over 5-2. He's 7-2 loading so you hammer the horse and he goes to 2-1, making him a terrible bet. If you're a serious bettor it's not about picking winners and never has been about picking winners. It's about making the right choice at a right price. 
I don't want the above to come across like exotics have no place in the market, or they're somehow a bad thing. They're not and choice is not. But if you are looking to churn, to make a go of it, the markets in the other parts of the world supply you with some hope in the win markets; a hope that, at times, is not available here across the pond.

I surmise it's one of the reasons handle is better over there, and customers last longer, with more satisfaction. Cashing tickets and feeling like you have a shot to beat the game, is, in itself, what the game is about.

Comments

Anonymous said…
The Meadowlands
April Pool Size by popularity

Late Pick 4 78,341 15%
Exacta 76,153
Trifecta 59,444
Early Pick 4 50,025 15%
Pick 5 49,111 15%
Win 48,413
Superfecta 39,970
Late Double 33,894
Early Double 30,148
Place 15,118
Pick 3 13,491
Show 7,431