2023 TwinSpires Best Bets and Quick Picks ROI report

January 26th, 2024

With 2023 in the books, it’s time to recap the performance of my daily “Best Bets and Quick Plays” and carryover analysis columns for TwinSpires Edge.

In the pursuit of transparency and improving my plays, I tracked all the wagers I proposed throughout 2023, breaking them down by bet type to get a more nuanced look at where my picks performed well and where they need to improve in 2024. A few notes before we dig in:

  • I have tallied up the cost of all bets I have proposed, factoring in scratches or cancellations that change the original cost of the proposed bets.
  • I have also tallied up the winnings generated by these bets. The winnings do not consider benefits TwinSpires bettors may have received by opting-in to special offers, such as refunds on $10 win bets or bonus payoffs on winning trifecta wagers.
  • Winnings and losses from one-off handicapping columns I’ve written outside of my Picks and Plays and carryover analysis columns have not been included; these tallies are focusing on the daily bread-and-butter plays.

From Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, here’s how my proposed wagers performed:

Bet TypeAmount BetAmount Won
Win$8,874.00 $8,521.50 
Exacta$7,701.00 $6,125.53 
Trifecta$756.00 $685.30 
Superfecta$38.00 $73.50 
Super High 5$2,593.60 $3,185.34 
Double$1,009.00 $817.40 
Pick 3$30.00 $0.00 
Pick 5$225.00 $266.10 
Pick 6$510.00 $228.92 
 $21,736.60 $19,903.59 

It wasn’t quite a profitable year, but the final quarter was strong. From October through December, $5,282.00 in wagers yielded a $5,524.51 return, so the $2 return on investment (ROI) was a profitable $2.09. That raised my ROI for the year from $1.75 after nine months to $1.83 for the full year, a loss of only 8.5%.

During the fourth quarter of 2023, I showed profits with many different types of wagers. Buoyed by a bevy of nice-priced winners during the Turfway Park Holiday Meet, $3,182 in win bets yielded a profitable return of $3,535.19 ($2.22 ROI). $61 in trifectas triggered $241 in payoffs ($7.90 ROI). A single $48 Pick 6 play hit for $228.92 ($9.54 ROI). Likewise, a single $48 Pick 5 hit for $266.10 ($11.09 ROI), and a lone $6 superfecta play brought home $73.50 ($24.50 ROI).

Exacta, double, and Super High 5 wagers were decidedly less profitable in the fourth quarter. $1,108 in exacta plays yielded only $956 in payoffs, generating a $1.73 ROI for the quarter. It was definitely an improvement from the first nine months of 2023, when my exacta ROI was $1.57, but it was a case of too little, too late. My exacta ROI for the entire year settled at $1.59, the result of $7,701.00 in bets returning only $6,125.53.

The loss of $1,575.47 on exactas is noteworthy because it represents the vast majority of my $1,832.41 deficit for the year. Excluding exactas, over $14,000 in proposed wagers for 2023 fell just $256.94 away from breaking even. Profitability with Super High 5, superfecta, and Pick 5 wagers helped, and my win bets—while not quite in the black for the whole year—put up a good fight with $8,874.00 in bets yielding $8,521.50 in payoffs, good for a $1.92 ROI and a loss of only 4%.

There’s one other area I want to mention: my recommendations of singles (for multi-race wagers), key horses (for playing on top in single-race exotics), and live longshots (for both types of wagers). I frequently highlighted such runners without recommending specific wagers, so I kept track of their winning percentages instead.

In 2023, I recommended 233 singles and key horses, of which 91 (39%) won. I’d like to push that number closer to 50% in 2024. On the other hand, I’m encouraged with the performance of my live longshots. Not all of them started as longshots at post time, but among my 67 live longshots, 14 (21%) visited the winner’s circle and 27 (40%) finished in the top three. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to raise those percentages in 2024, but one out of five longshots winning and two out of five cracking the trifecta is a decent start.

So what are the takeaways for 2024? Here’s how I’ll be shifting my strategies based on the results of 2023:

  • Limit exacta plays: Exactas haven’t been a strong category for me. I reduced my focus on exactas during the fourth quarter of 2023, to improved results, and I’ll continue that trend in 2024. I’ll be much more selective with exactas.
  • Continue seeking price plays for win bets: I came into the Turfway Park Holiday Meet confident I knew where to find winning longshots in those large, competitive fields, and the results were lucrative. I’ll continue placing an emphasis on finding live price horses in competitive fields during 2024, and with a bit of luck that will push my ROI into the profitable range.
  • Carefully attack the trickiest exotic wagers: Through my years of handicapping for TwinSpires, risky exotic wagers like the Super High 5, Pick 5, and Pick 6 have yielded some of my greatest successes—particularly in 2021, when I hit several carryovers for an aggregate payoff in the five-figure range. 2023 was quieter, but since I profited with superfecta, Super High 5, and Pick 5 wagers, I’ll continue to selectively pursue these tricky wagers when I’m confident I have a good chance to hit.
  • Be more selective recommending singles and key horses: In an effort to recommend at least 50% winners from suggested singles and key horses in 2024, I plan to be more selective in my recommendations. Less of, “If you’re playing on a budget and need a single, this one might do the trick,” and more of “You should single this horse because I’m 90% sure he’s going to win.”

By keeping these strategies in mind, I’m optimistic 2024 will be my best year yet for TwinSpires Best Bets and Quick Picks.