Homeracing

How One Simple Trend Led to a Winning Pick 6

Profile Picture: Keeler Johnson

January 29th, 2018

With all of the recent excitement over the huge “Rainbow Pick 6” carryover at Gulfstream Park, I got to thinking about a different Rainbow Pick 6 sequence from 2011, a sequence that emphasized the advantages that can be gained from following all the results at a given track on a daily basis.

At the time, the Rainbow Pick 6 was building up a carryover of respectable size and I was studying the sequence every day, paying attention to the results and looking for trends. After studying the daily results for weeks, I realized that some races were more likely than others to produce the longshot winners that led to impressive payoffs. Specifically, I realized that maiden claiming races on the turf course were unpredictable events, but that there was a common thread tying together many of the longshot winners—they were first-time starters with no racing experience. Handicappers couldn’t know if these horses were fast, but at the same time, the horses hadn’t proven themselves to be slow.

On one particular day, the last race of the Rainbow Pick 6 sequence was a $75,000 maiden claiming race for three-year-olds going 8.5 furlongs on turf. The favorites were all horses with racing experience, but my attention was drawn to three first-time starters, all of them longshots. I was especially intrigued by a horse named Seal Cove, who raced for the Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. At first glance, Seal Cover didn’t seem like a contender—McGaughey isn’t known for winning with first-time starters, and the fact that Seal Cove was starting off in a claiming race (despite being a half-brother to two graded stakes winners) suggested that he wasn’t anything special. But since longshots aren’t supposed to look logical on paper, Seal Cove was a must-use horse simply because he was a first-time starter in a type of race that tended to favor those runners.

The results of the first five races of the Rainbow Pick 6 were roughly as expected—two favorites, two second choices, and one 8-1 shot that wasn’t much of a surprise in a large field. In the finale, two of the first-time starters failed to threaten, but in the closing strides Seal Cove exploded from the back of the pack, ran down the leaders, and won at 20-1, completing a Rainbow Pick 6 that paid $4,321.41. That's just one example of the benefits that can come from seemingly simple observations gained by studying races on a daily basis.
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