Rethinking Multi-Race Exotics

Having a ticket crafted out of various combinations of your “A”, “B,” and “C” rated horses is all the rage in wagering. Generally, you hit your ticket if all of your A’s win, or some combination of A’s & B’s, or A & C’s. Explained by Steven Crist in “Exotic Betting,” (full review here) and the basis for the DRF wagering calculator, this method lets you go deeper for less money in pick four, pick fives, and pick sixes. It is colloquially known as the “Chinese Menu” approach, in reference to Chinese food family-style menus that let you choose a couple of items from column A and B, respectively.

This method — now considered the mainstream approach — is flawed from a value perspective.  By eliminating tickets with multiple longshot horses, you cut out the rarest combinations and those that will pay the most. Many of these combinations can potentially scoop the pool at smaller tracks. Getting into these “soft spots” is where the outsized payoffs are. The proponents of the Chinese Menu approach need to show that the money saved by leaving these combinations off the tickets makes financial sense by giving up chances at year-changing payouts.  It is my experience that they do not.

I prefer the combinations of different levels of “unlikely” in order to maximize return. The greatest payoffs occur when you can combine “very unlikely” (in the eyes of the public, but still a contender) with “only slightly unlikely.”  The tighter the multi-race exotics, the better (Daily Double over Pick 3/Pick 3 over Pick 4 and 5), with the maximum amount of money pushed onto your opinion.  That said, there are many “soft spots” that can bring about outsized returns throughout the longer multi-race exotics.  Knowing how to play these well can make a significant difference in your bottom line.


Presque Isle Downs, Race 4, 6:25 PM ET

Race of the Day, May 28

Presque Isle Downs, Erie, PA

Race 4, 6:25 PM ET, 6 furlongs, Maiden Special Weight for PA-Breds, Purse: $35K

The small fields that plagued the early days at Presque Isle appear to be gone. Twelve horses are scheduled in today’s fourth, a maiden allowance for Pennsylvania-Breds.

The M/L favorite is Tinturn Abbey (#3, 7/2), who is coming off a 307-day layoff and starting for hot Matthew Kritz barn for the first time.  He certainly figures on speed, although he’s had plenty of chances. Tinturn Abbey was in career form prior to the layoff. He’d need to resume that work to win – something that seems questionable given the long layoff. Savings N Loan (#5, 4-1) ran a very productive race last time out and picks up top local rider Scott Spieth. He rates well on condition, but he’ll need to improve upon that last effort and find more stamina to reach the winner’s circle. Tampa Bay Blue (#11, 9/2) ran an nice even race last time out. He’s lightly raced and may have more than he’s shown. Deverdoeu (#6, 15-1) had a better debut than anticipated. He’d need to improve, but is still within range of the winner’s circle, and could be especially nice at a price. Delaware Devil (#8, 15-1) makes his debut on an artificial surface.  He has a nice workout over the track, but would need to significantly improve here.  O Wow (#1, 5/1) chased the pace and faltered last time out. He looks to be too slow on his best day to win here. Woke Up Runnin’ (#4, 6-1) is off form.

The remaining contenders are all first time starters.  Papamac (#2, 8-1)  and Rage and Ruin (#10, 8-1) start for Joseph Martin, but neither looks terribly impressive on paper.  No Marbles (#9, 8-1) is a tad more impressive, but starts for a trainer that rarely has them ready to win at first asking.


  1. Is Tinturn Abbey ready to run today?  If he is, then he’s your likely winner.
  2. Do Deverdoeu or Tampa Bay Blue improve?  These two are lightly-raced and showed positive signs in their last races.
  3. Are any of the first-time starters ready to run?  The toteboard may provide us some clues near race time.
  4. Does Delaware Devil take to the artificial surface?  Even if he does, he’d need to really improve


Tinturn Abbey and Saving N Loan have a bit too much risk to support at a low price. I expect Tinturn Abbey to need a race off the long layoff and for Saving N Loan to fade in the stretch.  Both Tampa Bay Blue and Deverdoeu are better bets and could offer a nice price come race time, even to bet them both.  This is the final leg of the early Pick 4, which begins in race 1, and the 1st leg of a Pick 3, and could very well yield a nice price.

Tune in tonight at 6:25 ET/3:25 PT @alldayracing on twitter!