Keeler Johnson's 2023 Picks and Plays third quarter ROI report

October 18th, 2023

With three quarters down and one quarter remaining in 2023, it’s time to check in on the performance of my daily Picks and Plays and carryover analysis columns for TwinSpires Edge.

In search of a profitable year, I’m tracking all the wagers I propose each day, breaking them down by bet type to get a more nuanced look at where my picks are performing well and where they need to improve. 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 Sept. 30, here’s how my proposed wagers performed:

Bet TypeAmount BetAmount Won
Win$5,692.00 $4,986.31 
Exacta$6,593.00 $5,169.33 
Trifecta$695.00 $444.30 
Superfecta$32.00 $0.00 
Super High 5$2,079.60 $3,185.34 
Double$713.00 $593.80 
Pick 3$30.00 $0.00 
Pick 5$177.00 $0.00 
Pick 6$443.00 $0.00 
 $16,454.60 $14,379.08 

During the first three quarters of 2023, $16,454.60 in wagers returned $14,379.08. That works out to a $2 return on investment (ROI) of $1.75, lower than the $1.85 ROI I accumulated during the first half of 2023 and a loss of 12.5%. The third quarter was a bit rough, though not without highlights.

Indeed, a series of nice win bets in August and September contributed to $2,321.00 in win wagers yielding $2,212.25 in payoffs, good for a $1.91 ROI. That boosted my win bet ROI for the first nine months of 2023 to $1.75, up from $1.64 during the first six months.

Also, my Super High 5 plays (which result from chasing carryovers) remain firmly in the black, with $2,079.60 in wagers yielding $3,185.34 in payoffs ($3.06 ROI).

I’ve reduced my already limited expenditure on trifectas after the first six months of the year yielded a $0.96 trifecta ROI, and the results have been promising. $119.00 in trifecta wagers during the third quarter yielded a profitable return of $167.50 ($2.82 ROI), boosting my overall trifecta ROI for the year to $1.28. It’s a step in the right direction.

Exactas are primarily where my wagers have underperformed this year. $6,593.00 in proposed tickets have yielded only $5,169.33 in payoffs. The third quarter was particularly challenging, and my ROI with exactas has dropped from $1.71 after six months to $1.57 after nine months. I need to either boost my win percentage with exactas (currently only 13%) or raise the average payoff in order to get back in the black.

My ROI with double wagers is holding steady at $1.67, while occasional superfecta, Pick 3, Pick 5, and Pick 6 wagers have been unproductive. (That said, I hit my first superfecta wager of the fourth quarter, and the payoff has put that category in the black. We’ll see if it stays there by the end of the year.)

Considering the challenges involved with proposing wagers before race-day changes are posted, I’m encouraged by the fact I’m still within shouting range of overall profitability. One or two good exotic hits in the fourth quarter can push my overall ROI above the $2.00 mark, so I’ll keep trying hard.