Sunday, December 7, 2014

We Almost Had It

As anyone you plays the horses knows, multi-leg wagers can be difficult to hit. A Daily Double is picking the winner of two consecutive races, that years ago were strictly the first two races, but now roll through the entire card.

After that there are Pick-3s, Pick-4s, Pick-5s and the Pick-6, a bonanza bet, that when hit, usually pays off with a lifestyle changing return. The requirement is that the winner of the races covered by these bets must be represented as one bet. Usually, several permutations are devised and bet on by the bettors to strengthen their changes.

There is a consolation for the Pick-6. If five winners are picked, there is a separate payoff, usually small, since usually there are lots of bets that have 5 of the 6 winners picked; any 5 of the 6. On rare occasions, if there are some real significantly priced "bombs," longshots that come in, there might only be people who have only five winners on a ticket; no one picked six, or no one picked five. In these situations, a percentage of the total pool is marked for consolation payouts and the rest is carried over to the next day of betting, fattening that pool right from the start. Successive carry-over days create some hefty pools. And attract more wagers.

Consolation Pick-6 returns can be so small that one Pick-6 that was played by a group of four of us, creating four bets, was hit for the consolation payoff of $11.00; five out of six winners, all heavy favorites; split four ways, $2.75 for the $2.00 each person bet. Great return on Wall Street. Lousy at a racetrack.

So, more often than not, multi-leg races result in an incomplete pass. Like Triple Crown pursuits, all legs are not hit often by many.

We just had an attempt at an obituary Pick-3 that resulted in nailing two of the three legs, but a close second place finish in the final leg but a kibosh on the celebration.

It was speculated that Robert McFadden's byline could complete the rarest of obit triples; three subjects, over 90, who all committed felonies. Quite honestly, I got excited when I saw Mr McFadden's byline in Thursday's paper and the subject had passed away at 85 and was a politician who had made numerous attempts at being New York City's mayor. Like horseshoes, close could count.

But as soon as I realized it was Herman Badillo who had passed away at 85, I knew we missed the photo. I was aware of his political career, and couldn't recall it being smudged by even an indictment and beating the rap. This wasn't Mario Biaggi. Reading the obituary confirmed it; no mention of even overdue parking tickets, which wouldn't have counted anyway.

But, as often happens at the races, you look in one spot and something is happening over there, we did have the absolute rarest string of deaths in hockey. A Pick-5. Not all the same byline, but significantly, in close order, Gilles Tremblay, Vitkor Tikhonov, Pat Quinn, Murray Oliver and Jean Beliveau all passed away.

We'll keep our eyes out for more clusters as time goes by. We may get that 90+ McFadden felon before year's end yet, but it won't be a true Pick-3. It will be more like Tiger Woods's Grand Slam. Close, but no cigar.

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