Three tips for betting the Pick 5

November 19th, 2019

Practical tips for approaching the Pick 5 race sequence bet

The Pick 5 is one of the best wagers on the menu at Churchill Downs. With its low 15% takeout rate and $0.50 minimum, the Pick 5 can be a lucrative wager for beginners and experts alike.

But with five races in the equation, betting the Pick 5 requires more strategy than betting to win, place, or show.

Here are three trips to help get you started:

Find a single

Due to the number of races involved, Pick 5 wagers can rapidly become expensive. Calculating the cost of a Pick 5 is a simple exercise in multiplication. If you’re using two horses in each leg of a $0.50 wager, the cost will be 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 x 0.5, or $16. Use three horses in each leg, and the cost jumps to 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 0.5, or $121.50.

If you can identify a race where you feel confident using just one horse, you’ll be able to “single” this runner and cut your expenses. Singling a horse in the first leg of the $121.50 ticket outlined above would drop the cost to a more reasonable $40.50.

Don’t go with the flow

They key to cashing a big Pick 5 payoff is to play against popular crowd opinions. If everyone is singling a 3-5 favorite in Leg 3, taking a contrary approach can be lucrative. If you include a 5-1 shot with sneaky-good form, and your 5-1 shot upsets the 3-5 favorite, you’ll advance in the Pick 5 while hundreds (thousands?) of other tickets will fall by the wayside.

On the other hand, if everyone is saying “Leg 4 is impossible!” and spreading deep with six or seven horses, an advantage can be gained if you feel confident playing just one or two horses. If you can survive the toughest leg with just a couple of runners, you can afford to spread deeper elsewhere and cover horses other bettors will be excluding.

Watch the weather

You can expect 40-50 inches of rain to fall in Kentucky each year, so it’s wise to stay attuned to weather conditions at Churchill Downs. You might handicap the Pick 5 expecting a dry track and firm turf, only to watch in frustration as the skies open up on race day. You don’t want to be scrambling for replacement selections after a grass race is transferred to the main track.

Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances include advanced weather forecasts to give you a basic idea of what to expect, but if you’re plotting out a Pick 5 ticket days in advance, go ahead and check more details forecasts. If the weather looks iffy, outline alternative betting strategies. Consider which horses you would favor if a turf race is transferred to dirt. Over sloppy tracks, avoid runners who appear to be regressing, as they’re more likely to take a big step backward over challenging track conditions.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be well on your way to playing smart and savvy Pick 5 tickets. Good luck!