What is the Place Pick All, and how do you bet it?

March 30th, 2023

For the most part, there isn’t much variance in the betting menus from one Thoroughbred racetrack to the next. In North America, you’ll see win, place, and show bets, plus single-race exotic wagers like the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta, and multi-race exotics like the double, Pick 3, Pick 4, and Pick 6.

But once in a while you’ll see a racetrack offer a less common type of wager. One example is the “Place Pick All,” which bears only a vague resemblance to the more common betting options.

What is a Place Pick All?

A Place Pick All is a multi-race wager involving all the races on a given day at a single track. Or… almost all the races. If a card contains a large number of races, the Place Pick All might not get underway in the first race. The point is the same: the Place Pick All encompasses a lot of races.

But the differences between a Place Pick All and, say, a Pick 6 are more significant than the number of races involved. When you’re betting a Pick 6, you have to select the winners of all six races. But in the Place Pick All, picking winners isn’t necessary. A top-two finish is all you need, hence the “place” part of the name. Your choices could finish second in every single leg of the Place Pick All and you would cash the same payoff as a bettor who selected every winner.

How to bet the Place Pick All

Let’s dig into a real-world example. On Nov. 27, 2021, Del Mar offered Place Pick All betting on a nine-race card. The minimum bet amount was $1, so using one horse per race would have cost $1.

But the key to betting a Place Pick All is to include multiple horses in the more challenging races, covering multiple options in hopes that at least one of your choices will finish in the top two.

A spreading strategy would have served bettors well in the opening race on the card, a competitive allowance optional claimer taking place over one mile on turf. The favorite started at odds of 32-10, and nine of the 11 entrants started at 15-1 or less. Any ticket that spread deep and included Law Professor (6-1) or Tulsa Tornado (11-1) would have survived.

Unfortunately, spreading in every race rapidly increases the cost of the ticket. A $1 Place Pick All ticket using just two horses in each of nine races costs $512. That’s why the “place” aspect is so important; you don’t have to pick the winner, you only have to find a horse you’re confident will finish in the top two, which makes it easier to find trustworthy singles.

This approach came in handy in Race 3 at Del Mar, a maiden special weight for two-year-old fillies racing one mile on turf. Sterling Candy was the heavy 6-5 favorite, and bettors who singled her in the Place Pick All breathed a sigh of relief when she rallied to finish second behind 29-1 longshot Miss Mattie B. Her second-place finish was good enough to keep Place Pick All tickets alive, which wasn’t the case for bettors playing typical multi-race wagers.

The same approach reaped dividends in Race 5, the Seabiscuit H. (G2) taking place over 1 1/16 miles on turf. Bettors who singled the decisive 9-10 favorite Sacred Life were perfectly content when he finished second by a head against 7-2 shot Field Pass. And the strategy paid off again in Race 6, a $50,000 starter optional claimer in which popular 7-10 choice Awesome Taylor finished second.

Now here’s the best part: you don’t always have to hit every leg of the Place Pick All in order to cash. There were just enough unpredictable outcomes over the course of the Nov. 27, 2021 card at Del Mar that no one managed to select a top-two finisher in all nine races. Hitting in eight out of nine races was sufficient to collect a $3,219 payoff.

The next time you see a Place Pick All on the betting menu, why not give it a try? It’s a fun wager to play, and it’s theoretically possible to catch a big payoff without selecting a single winner.