Emerald Downs: The Betting Parlor

Paul Beattie


The Betting Parlor


(Auburn, WA) Finally, time to catch up on what has been happening at the betting windows this season at Emerald Downs. As much fun as it is to watch the sport and follow the horses, jockeys and connections the other half of the sport happens in the betting parlor. This is where the game is played by the public.

Horse racing has always been the most honest sport when it comes to acknowledging the importance of gambling to their sport. From the start having something on the outcome drew fans to the sport and it became engrained in our culture since all the other sports pretended to be pure and fantasized that fans wouldn’t need anything else to motivate them to watch and to follow their sport as a whole.

So as much fun it is for those of us “all-in” on the sport and we follow owners, trainers, jockeys, horses, the horses mom and dad hell we even follow and list the mom’s-dad! But for a large portion of horse racing fans it’s all about the game. Figuring out who they think is going to win and then trying to figure out how to use your conclusions in a wager.

So the “Betting Parlor” is all about betting, odds, pay-offs and strategies to win. none of this is meant to advise or encourage or claim to be the best way but rather to offer more information for players to consider when trying to decide how to bet their selections.

The horse racing game is very simple to very complex and this is the genius of the game. If you simply like to make $2 win bets that is cool and easy to understand. If you like to key-wheel superfecta bets that takes some figuring out to do and if correct can return big dollars for as little as a 10-cent bet.

In this column, we will review each bet available at Emerald Downs tell you the high pays and the average pay-out and odds. We’ll take a look at how you can actually hit some of these big pays that have been hit so far this season so let’s get to it!

Current High Pays

$2 Win (You win only if your selection wins the race.)
So far a huge longshot has yet to bust the tote board and the biggest pay-off came on the 16th when Jose Zunino brought home “Reelfoot” at 26-1 and was #9. The highest $2 win pay so far is $54.20

Reelfoot with Jose Zunino

$2 Place (You win if your selection wins or runs 2nd)
Like what happens so often with the win-place-show a single big longshot can sweep all 3 high pays and #9 “Reelfoot” did take the high place pay-off as well returning $28.40 (13-1).

$2 Show (You win is your selection finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd)
The high show was not “Reelfoot” but rather 44-1 “Special Lesson”, #5, from June 2nd. Alex Anaya was the rider and Special Lesson returned $17.60 (7-1).


$1 Exacta (You win by picking 1st and 2nd place exactly)
These are known as the vertical bets in horse racing and is another instance that one big longshot can trigger the high pay across the board and in this case it did with again “Reelfoot” leading the way.

The high $1 exacta pay was indeed 26-1 “Reelfoot” with Jose Zunino to 6-1 “Grinders Sparksaglo with Julien Couton and returned $305.90 or 304-1 for the #9-#8 combination.

50-cent Trifecta (You win by selecting 1st, 2nd and 3rd place exactly)
“Reelfoot” led this high pay as well, the “Reelfoot” 26-1 to 6-1 “Grinder Sparksalgo” to #7 “Candy Zip” at 2-1 with Juan Gutierrez or a 9-8-7 combination paid $786.45 for the 50-cent wager. The were 871-1.

10-cent Superfecta (You win by picking the top 4 finishers exactly.)
The “Reelfoot” race would sweep the basic verticals adding “So Lucky” with Jennifer Whitaker up at 6-1 for the 4th place finish. The 10-cent wager with the numbers 9-8-7-2 returned a crazy $1,015.82 or 10,149-1.

50-cent Super High 5 (This bet is only in the final race and you must pick exactly the top 5 finishers. If no one gets all 5 a small percent of the pool is paid to those with the most correct and the rest of the pool carries over to the next race day.)
The largest pay-off so far is from May 26 in race 8 where the number combination of 1-3-2-8-5 returned $4, 374.40 or 8,747-1. It was “Rough Ride” with Jennifer Whitaker at 9-2 to 4-1 “Officer of War” with Alex Cruz, to “Inquisition” at 22-1 with Jose Zunino to 5-1 “Mojave” with Franklin Ceballos to “Brett” at 3-1 with Julien Couton.

The next line of bets are referred to as the horizontal bets or stringing winners back-to-back from 2-6 races.

$1 Daily Double (You win by correctly selecting 2 winners in a row, the bet is available on every race but the final race.)
Once again, “Reelfoot” is going to play a big role in the high pay-offs of these wagers beginning with the Daily Double. The high pay was on June 16 and began in the 7th race with 26-1 “Reelfoot” with Zunino to the 8th race with “Blowing Bayou” at 9-2 with Alex Cruz and returned $235.20 234-1 for the 9-5 number combination.

50-cent Pick 3 (You win by stringing 3 straight winners and is available to bet every race but the final 2 races of the day.)
No “Reelfoot” in this one, the top Pick 3 was from June 3rd and began in race 2 with “Lodestone” at 5-1 ridden by Jose Zunino to the 3rd race winner “Cascade Dancer” at 7-1 with Javiar Matias to the 4th race winner 20-1 “Slew’s Whiz Kid” with Heriberto Martinez. The numbers 2-1-7 returned $560.65 or 1120-1.

50-cent Pick 4 (You win by selecting 4 straight winners, the bet is available 3 times daily)
Back to June 16 we go beginning in the 5th race where the numbers 5-8-9-5 paid $4,390.25 for the 50-cent wager. The 8,778-1 pay-off began with 8-1 “M Fast” in the 5th with Juan Gutierrez to the 6th race “Master Recovery” at 1-1 with Gutierrez again up to the 7th race with 26-1 “Reelfoot” and Jose Zunino to the 8th race and “Blowing Bayou” at 9-2 with Alex Cruz.

50-cent Pick 5 (You win by picking the final 5 race winners in a row and offered once a day.)
Again, June 16 is the winner. If you won the highest Pick-4 all you had to do was to add the 4th race winner #7 “Kid Arcade” at 8-1 with Ryan Barber aboard. (See winning Pick 4 for the other 4 winners) The winning numbers were 7-5-8-9-5 returned a whopping $28,860.55 for the 50-cent bet. This works out to be 57,720-1.

Spittin Image with Alex Cruz

20-cent Jackpot Pick 6 (You win this bet by first picking 6 straight winners, the final 6 races of each card. But you only win the whole pool if you are the lone winner otherwise you split a percent of the pool and the rest carries over, this wager is available once a day.)
This one is due to a very large carry-over of more than $64,000 when a single winner cashed out for $81,409.82. This pay-off was on June 23rd and the winning combination was 2-4-3-1-3-7 and the pay-off was a 407,048-1 pay-out. The winners were beginning in the 3rd race with “Daddy’s Little Girl” at 8-1 with Julien Couton to the 4th race where “Rita Lorraine” won at 2-1 with Juan Gutierrez to the 5th race winner of 5-1 “L D Rado’ Goldrush” with Kevin Radke to the 6th race “Buckly Bay” at odds-on 3-5 with Alex Cruz to the 7th where Cruz won again on 6-5 “Spittin Image” to the 8th and final race “Haynesfield Hit” at 4-1 with Jose Zunino.


The following are the average pays and odds-to-1 in selected bets for 2021 and compared to the first 11 days from 2020. This means a 50-cent bet is then double to get to the ?-1 odds. This comparison was completed prior to days 12 and 13 being run in 2021.

$2 Win 
The average $2 win pay-out in 2021 is $10.16 or 4-1 compared to 2020 where the average $2 win through 11 days was $14.46 or 6-1.

$1 Exacta
The current average $1 Exacta pay is $29.19, 28-1 and in 2020 it was $39.26, 38-1.

50-cent Trifecta
The 2021 50-cent trifecta pay off is $70.90 or 140-1 and in 2020 it was $136.99 or 273-1.

10-cent Superfecta
So far in 2021 the average 10-cent superfecta pay is $71.30 or 711-1 while in 2020 it was it was $123.95 or 1238-1.

50-cent Pick 3
In 2021 the average Pick 3 pay is $94.90 or 188-1 and in 2020 through 11 days it was $233.68 or 466-1.

50-cent Pick 4
This the Pick 4’s have been paying an average of $529.64 or 1058-1 and in 2020 it was $1,171.80 or 2341-1.

50-cent Pick 5
The Pick-5 in 2021 has averaged $7,006.64 an odds clip of 14012-1 and in 2020 it was $2,859 or 5717-1.

Other Averages

Number of Races
In 2021 through 11 days there have been 95 races averaging 8.6 races per day, in 2021 there were 111 races averaging 10.1 per day.

Number of Starters (Field size)
So far there have been 631 official starters averaging 57.4 per day and 6.6 horses per race. In 2020 there were 860 starters averaging 78.1 per day and 7.7 per race.

Handle (Total amount of money wagered)
Total amount wagered in 2021 through 11 days was $17,268,612 averaging $1,569,874 and $181,775 per race. In 2020 $20,930,000 was wagered averaging $1,900,000 and $189,000 per race.

Analysis of Averages

Clearly last year there were more races and more horses through the first 11 days but it is important to note this is not an apples to apples comparison in fact there are many reasons as to why there is such a difference.

In 2020 the initial opening day was set for mid-April with the track opening for horses in February so there was a significant population of horses on track when the pandemic shut down began. Additionally, Turf Paradise was at the time closing for good so many PNW trainers were moving all their stock back home. Even when there was a requirement to quarantine since racing had been delayed there was time for horses and people to clear all the hurdles to get to Emerald Downs

Racing would eventually be cleared to move forward in late June. So not only were the horses that needed to work back into form and traditionally may not have been ready to race early in the season had all been training and were ready to run. On top of it, the 2-year-olds were also ready to make their debuts adding another layer of horses ready to run adding to the population ready to run and of course really not many options to pack up and go to another track.

So, when the ok was given to get back to racing the backside was packed and ready to go resulting in larger fields and more races. This season was delayed as well but began more than a month earlier than last year so the 2-year-olds were not ready and with things re-opening moving from track to track is also easier. Horses have also been drawn to a few more tracks including Grants Pass which now the epicenter of racing in Oregon after Portland Meadows closed for good and in Texas where a new tax law that provided additional funding to the thoroughbred industry increasing purses. Turf Paradise also got new life and re-opened.

All of these options chip away at the overall horse population which directly impacts the number of races and horses per race. 

Taking that into consideration there is one specific number that sticks out that should be not only comforting but exciting to Emerald Downs and that is the per race average handle. Of course 2020 is going to have more handle overall they have an additional 16 races to collects bets but the per race average should be encouraging. In 2020 they were averaging $189,000 per race and in 2021 it is les but in the ballpark of $181,000. 

Let’s take this a step further, in 2020 through 11 days the7 averaged $189,000 per race and there was an average of 7.7 horses per race which is an average of $24, 545 average handle per horse, per race. In 2021 the average is $181,000 per race with 6.6 horse or an average handle of $27,424 per horse which is about $3,000 MORE per horse.

Best Bets in 2021

The are our rankings of the top 3 bets to focus on in 2021 through the first 11 days.

  1. The 50-cent Pick 5
    This bet can make you a lot of money and has a huge difference in average pay-off over 2020. There have 2 pay-offs of more than $20,000 on a 50-cent ticket. The fact each combination is only 50 cents also pushes this wager to the top.

    Of course if you can throw down $500 to bet on this you can cover a lot of ground but those on a budget can also hit especially if you team up. Let’s take the high pay $28,000 pay-off on June 16. You need at least 1 single in your sequence and you need to no more than 3 or so in at least 2 other races. Then you must be willing to tap the “all” button on 1 or 2 of the races as well.

    One strategy is to focus on the top 3 jockeys and who they are on and try to narrow down at least one single. On June 16 the single would have been the 3rd leg “Master Recovery” at 1-1 with top 3 jockey Juan Gutierrez. Then moving to the 1st leg there were 7 horses with 6 of them between 5-2 and 8-1 and one longshot at 26-1. So take all but the long shot, covering 6 of the 7. In the 2nd leg a field of 6 with leading rider Alex Cruz on the favorite, 3rd leading rider Gutierrez on a leading trainer Joe Toye horse at 8-1 and then a shipper from Golden Gate with visiting rider Irving Orozco. This gives you a 9-5, 5-2 and an 8-1 shot in the 2nd leg and yes will have to beat another 5-2 in this field but at times you have to make beat favorites to get big pay-days but not every race which is why you single the 1-1 in the 3rd leg. 

    In the 4th leg it was a wide open field with anyone with a chance to win so you hit the all button and cover all 9 starters to make sure if you are still alive you go into the final race with a chance to win it all. In the final race you include the odds-on choice with 2nd leading rider Julien Couton and you make sure the top rider, Alex Cruz on the 3rd favorite is in the mix and why not the 2nd favorite with Franklin Ceballos. 

    The total amount of going 6 horses with 3 with your single to all 9 and with 3 is $243 or $60.75 for each of the 4 partners. If you felt uncomfortable leaving the 1 horse uncovered in the 1st leg then the cost was $283.50 or about $71 each. This would have been a good ticket that returned $28,860 or $7,215 for each partner on a $60-$71 investment from each.

  2. The 10-cent Superfecta
    First, the 10-cent Super has the lowest track take-out percent of all their bets taking 15% off the top leaving more money in the pool. The all button comes into big time play on these bets especially for 3rd and 4th place. By hitting the all-button it now reduces your work to trying o win an exacta knowing you have all combinations covered if you can hit the top 2. 

    Let’s take a look at the June 23rd and in the 1st race there was a 3-2 favorite, 8-5 2nd fav, then 7-2, 6-1 and 2 longshots at 16-1 and 54-1. So let’s take the 2 favorites to win, then the 2 favs and the 7-2 and 6-1 to run 2nd with all with all. This 10-cent bet is $7.20 and the 3-2 fav won followed by the 6-1 then the 8-5 and the 54-1 shot snuck in 4th. This returned $29 on the 10-cent bet. If you wanted to up your bet to 30-cents it would have cost you $21 and your return $87 or make it a $1 bet the cost is $72 and you would have gotten back $290 nearly a $220 profit. That’s betting the favorite to win!

    Let’s look at the 3rd race on that day with a field of 7 but only 3 horses 8-1 or less. One is a big odds-on favorite at 2-5, a 2-1 and an 8-1 shot with 2nd leading rider Julien Couton aboard. Let’s just take the top 3 horses and box them to run 1st and 2nd and go all with all. The other horses are 27-1, 48-1, 54-1 and 104-1 and one of them have to be in the superfecta. If one of them can sneak into just 3rd place it will really up the pay-off but if either the 2nd or 3rd favorite can beat the odds-on horse that will also boost the pay-off. 

    In this case the winner was the 3rd favorite at 8-1 over the 2-5 odds on choice who ran 2nd then the 54-1 outsider got the show and the 2-1 2nd fav was 4th. This ticket cost $12.00 on a 10-cent bet and returned an astounding $151. A 30-cent ticket was $36 to bet and your return was $453 and the $1 bet $120 for a return of $1,510! Again, that is with all 3 top favorites in the money!

    In another example is taking a big favorite and single it with the next 2 favorites to run 2nd with all with all. In this race from May 20 the favorite “Daffodil Sweet” was 3-5 followed by a 5-2 and 5-1 shot with the rest in double digit odds. The top fav won followed by the 5-1 over 19-1 for 3rd and then the 5-2 shot. This bet cost $1.20 and returned $8.10. A $24.00 superfecta bet of this combination would return $162 for a $138 profit compared to a $24 win ticket on the big favorite returned $38.40 for a $14.40 profit. Sure there is a little more gamble here by needing to get one of the 2 next favorites to run 2nd and hoping for a longer shot to get to 3rd but this happens more often than not. And yes, $8.10 doesn’t pop out as a big pay but when profiting $138 on a 3-5 shot is possible.

    Even better is turning a 2-5 paying $2.40 or 20-cents on the dollar into a $300 profit. On June 16 in the 2nd race “Bella’s Back” with Julien Couton was 2-5 in a 6 horse field. The other 5 were between 7-1 and 26-1. Bella won the race handily followed by 26-1, 17-1 and 8-1 and the 10-cent superfecta returned $32.49. If you had simply went with the public on the winner and went “Bellas Back” with all with all with all the cost of that bet is just $2.40. So now you just need Bella to win and have the super pay anything over $2.40 on the 10-cent ticket and you break even at worst. So even a $5 return will more than double your money. In this case the return was crazy with a $30 profit. So you could have wagered $2 to win on Bella and profited 40-cents or bet $2.40 basically to win on Bella and gotten back more than $30 in profit. A $1 superfecta would cost you $24 and a return of $324.90 or a $300.90 profit or a $24 win on the 2-5 favorite would get you $28.80 a $4.80 profit with no difference in approaching this race by picking a 2-5 odds-on choice to win.

  3. The Win Ticket
    This is aimed at races with a big favorite of 1-1 or lower. You might think horses that are 1-1 or lower win at a high rate but so far through 2021 there have been 46 horses that went off at 1-1 or less but only 26 have won at just a 56% win rate. In horse racing of course 56% of anything is big but for overwhelming favorites that means nearly 50% of the time someone is going to beat the heavy favorite. 

    The 20 horses that have beaten big favorites have returned $2 win pay-offs anywhere from a low of $4.80 to a high of $43.40. The 20 winners averaged a pay-out of $13.85 or nearly 6-1. So if you can get a 6-1 pay-out betting against a heavy favorite, a straight bet against a favorite you don’t like just might be the best way to make the most on your investment.

We know there is a lot of information in this story and so many ways to look at betting the races. Information is key so if you want to hit for big money you need to put in your time not only picking your best chances to win but then how to bet them to get the most on your wager. This is why horse racing is such a great game and no system or belief in how to get to your anwser is better than others. If it works for you and you are having success then stick to your guns.

We will continue to follow trends and keep track of numbers and we hope there is a nugget of information we have or will present to you helps you put together that big winner. The first edition of the Betting Parlor now in the books and we will see you in the cashing line!



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