Posted by Bob Heyden on Thursday, June 30, 2011 4:36 PM

Move over Pick-4-there's a new kid on the block. The Pick 5 debuts at the Meadowlands this week-and it has just made the Pick 4 the SECOND BEST wager in town. Here's why:
1) 50 cent option. Now everyone is in play. You can loosen the drawstring a touch. Spread out the papers on the table. You can feel emboldened when $30 invested gets you 120 options. I love the Hollywood Park and Santa Anita big pools and carryovers, but the $2 minimum on their Pick-6 usually leaves me out. Now-with the Pick-5 on tap at the Meadowlands, that bet has drifted even further into the back of the drawer.
2) Why is this-The Pick-5-better than the Pick-4? Because the same reasoning applies to the Average Joe even more so with the extra race. The first and last parts of the Pick 4-now the Pick 5 are races where the favorites are far more likely to be played-and thus overplayed. A quick perusal of the five fields-to the guy spending 20-25 minutes or so on it, will likely find him looking for something to 'Get Him Going" (AKA Race ONE) and finish up with something chalky or close to it ("Hey-I don't want to catch a couple of bombs and NOT be live") There's a guy on the Paddock Level-I see every time I do the show. He ONLY asks one question per night-"Hey Hollywood-WHO'S the SINGLE in the Pick 4?"
3) The positioning of the Pick 5 as the first five races also makes it more attractive. You don't have to wait for ANYTHING. And-if you get lucky and nail it early, you can go into that night Pick 4 oozing with confidence. Fatter wallets have a way of doing that to you. I don't know about you-but I'm far more dangerous to CONTINUE on a roll and winning when I'm ahead than I am to come back and think 100% rationally when down.
4) The 50 cent option on the Pick 5 and the $1 minimum on the Pick 4 come into play when-say you look at the overnight program and like two horses the next night. But one races early and the other one late. This enables you to then single those-for the minimum-and shop around in the other events.
5) The early Daily Double Pool-Is it likely to be affected? Yes. BUT-if you feel strongly early in the Pick-5-by all means keep the double tickets coming. Is there anything worse than catching a couple of 5-1 shots in the double and NOT cashing because you got a touch greedy? Earlier this year-I had a Pick 6-carryover ticket as a partner with a few others. We caught the first three-and the Pick 3 paid $6,900 and change. No-we were NOT in on that-we had the Pick 6 going-but I had lukewarm feelings on the final three races and really wasn't even excited-knowing the unlikelihood of catching three more. I was right-not a sniff. Nada.The first three big-priced winners eventually didn't amount to a hill of beans.
6) Finally, the outer posts can be overlooked-well-simply because they are the outer posts. I did it last year-catching the first three legs of a Pick-4 that was coming back strong. I looked at my 2 live horses, 3 and 5, and somehow came to look at #9 and couldn't figure out why I left him off. I had to admit-I didn't even look that FAR OUT. I actually did not look at all at the outside three horses-and got royally burned. That's bad strategy and management on a half mile track-but much worse on a miler.

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Bob "Hollywood" Heyden has been the Meadowlands Racetrack's statistician and handicapper since 1984. He appears nightly on "Racing from the Meadowlands" recap show on SNY and conducts all winner's circle interviews. "Holly News and Notes" are a must read for little known facts and important historical racing data.

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