Keeler Johnson's 2023 picks and plays midyear ROI report

July 11th, 2023

We recently crossed the halfway point in 2023, which means it’s time for a midyear check 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 June 30, here’s how my proposed wagers performed:

Bet TypeAmount BetAmount Won
Super High 5
Pick 3
Pick 5
Pick 6

During the first half of 2023, $11,024 in wagers returned $10,187. That works out to a $2 return on investment (ROI) of $1.85. It’s a loss, but a loss of only 7.6%, so my plays are beating the takeout rates. Considering the challenges involved with proposing wagers before race-day changes are posted, I’m encouraged to be within shouting range of profitability. My Super High 5 plays (which stem from chasing carryovers) have been a help, contributing a $2,696 return on $1.447 in bets.

All other categories are currently in the red, some by more than others. I’ve proposed 185 win bets this year, of which 50 have hit for a 27% strike rate and a $2,774 return from $3,371 in bets. That’s a modest $1.64 ROI, so in the second half of the year I need to boost either my strike rate or the average winning payoff in order to push the win bet category into the black.

The exacta category looks similar to the win bet category with a $3,969 return on $4,644 in bets. The strike rate is lower (47-for-316, or 15%), but the ROI is a bit higher, coming in at $1.71. Again, I need to hit a higher number of exactas or boost the average winning payoff to strengthen this category.

Trifectas have come in weaker than win bets and exactas with a $0.96 ROI, so the data suggests I should reduce my expenditures in this category (which is already on the modest size) and focus on more productive categories.

Double wagers bounce back with a $1.67 ROI, while my unproductive investments in superfectas, Pick 3s, and Pick 5s have been minimal.

The Pick 6 is an interesting category in that $347 has been invested with nothing to show for it, but all it takes is one good hit to turn the category (and even my whole year) around. My columns turned up a couple of lucrative Pick 6 payoffs in 2021 (and a recent near-miss at Ellis Park went 5-for-6), so check back later this year and the Pick 6 category might look considerably brighter.

Speaking of which, I’ll be sharing another ROI report in early October, once we’re three-quarters of the way through the year. With the competitive race meets at Saratoga, Del Mar, and Kentucky Downs unfolding during the next three months, I’m optimistic nice wagering scores are on the horizon.