Breeders' Cup 2012 betting guide, wagering and payout history

Rob Carr

An overview of the historical payouts at the Breeders' Cup World Championships.

The Breeders' Cup is the best two days for wagering on horses in North America and, in most years, the entire world. Fifteen races, most filled to the brim with classy and talented horses, test the very essence of what it means to be a horseplayer.

Over the past few years, I've compiled an Excel file tracking payouts at every Breeders' Cup since the inaugural event back in 1984. The file breaks down payouts by race, year and specific wagers, and provides an average and a median payout for each category. You can view the file at the link below via Google Drive.

Breeders' Cup Historical Payouts, Odds & Field Size

Sample size is always a concern when analyzing a set of data, and the Breeders' Cup payouts are no exception. Over the last five years, the Breeders' Cup has added several new races such as the Turf Sprint, Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Sprint, and more. I've included those races in the tables throughout this post but bear in mind that most of those events have run less than 10 times in the history of the Breeders' Cup.

The first two tables are a summary of the average Win, Exacta, Trifecta and Superfecta payouts for each Breeders' Cup race with all payouts are displayed as a $2 bet. Superfectas are now a $0.10 minimum wager but in order to maintain consistency across all years I've entered the data as a $2 payout.

Average Payouts
Marathon 37.50 Marathon 377.10 Turf Sprint 3,984.90 Classic 106,075.09
Dirt Mile 32.32 Dirt Mile 373.20 Classic 3,801.96 Sprint 30,789.16
Classic 28.58 Turf Mile 325.64 Dirt Mile 3,641.76 Turf Mile 30,656.63
Turf Sprint 26.55 Sprint 311.64 Turf Mile 3,430.82 Dirt Mile 27,572.60
F&M Turf 23.66 Turf Sprint 301.95 Sprint 3,005.33 Turf Sprint 26,651.90
Turf Mile 22.78 Juvenile Turf 265.04 Marathon 2,739.70 Juvenile Turf 25,887.84
JuveFillies Turf 22.30 Classic 222.81 Juvenile Turf 2,529.48 Turf 20,539.49
Sprint 21.57 F&M Turf 193.87 F&M Turf 1,882.34 Marathon 19,250.55
Turf 21.40 Juvenile 183.14 Distaff 1,815.39 Juvenile 16,787.89
Distaff 20.08 Turf 176.29 F&M Sprint 1,783.52 F&M Turf 16,131.51
F&M Sprint 19.20 JuveFillies Turf 171.30 Juvenile Fillies 1,611.60 JuveFillies Turf 14,049.65
Juvenile 17.33 F&M Sprint 156.44 Turf 1,368.19 F&M Sprint 13,957.48
Juvenile Turf 16.92 Juvenile Fillies 135.39 Juvenile 1,338.60 Distaff 10,246.38
Juvenile Fillies 16.11 Distaff 131.03 JuveFillies Turf 1,030.95 Juvenile Fillies 5,578.02
Juve Sprint 2.80 Juve Sprint 28.00 Juve Sprint 306.20 Juve Sprint 1,727.00

Median Payouts
Marathon 25.00 Marathon 359.90 Dirt Mile 3,272.00 Sprint 27,878.00
JuveFillies Turf 22.90 Sprint 290.00 Marathon 3,060.80 Turf Sprint 19,413.80
F&M Sprint 18.00 Dirt Mile 218.60 Sprint 2,279.30 Marathon 15,889.00
Sprint 15.70 F&M Sprint 177.00 F&M Sprint 1,756.80 JuveFillies Turf 13,968.60
Dirt Mile 15.60 Turf Sprint 172.20 Turf Sprint 1,467.80 F&M Sprint 13,574.00
Juvenile Turf 14.80 F&M Turf 156.60 Juvenile Turf 1,393.20 Dirt Mile 13,323.80
Classic 14.35 Turf Mile 152.60 F&M Turf 1,167.00 Juvenile Turf 11,088.60
Turf 12.40 JuveFillies Turf 129.30 Classic 1,065.70 Turf Mile 10,981.60
Turf Mile 12.40 Juvenile 124.20 Distaff 1,058.30 Classic 8,786.20
Turf Sprint 12.30 Classic 86.45 Juvenile 1,051.00 F&M Turf 8,076.80
F&M Turf 12.00 Turf 78.80 JuveFillies Turf 937.70 Juvenile 7,051.00
Juvenile 9.70 Juvenile Turf 72.00 Turf 544.60 Juvenile Fillies 5,534.00
Distaff 7.10 Juvenile Fillies 49.90 Turf Mile 544.60 Turf 3,965.00
Juvenile Fillies 6.60 Distaff 34.20 Juvenile Fillies 383.30 Distaff 3,649.70
Juve Sprint 2.80 Juve Sprint 28.00 Juve Sprint 306.20 Juve Sprint 1,727.00

If you're a diehard horseplayer, or even just a serious gambler and occasional horseplayer, there is a whole lot of goodness in the above tables. I included the "average" data simply for comparison purposes, but I'm most interested in the "median" figures since those give us a better view of which Breeders' Cup divisions produce the fat payouts on a consistent basis.

The top three median win payouts races are all new races and contain only a handful of events in each division.1 The fourth race on the median list is the Sprint, one of the original Breeders' Cup races in 1984. A couple things stand out from the median win data: first, the Sprint, Classic, juvenile turf races, Turf, Filly and Mare Turf and Turf Mile all produce double-digit win payouts over half the time. Second, the Juvenile Fillies and the Distaff/Ladies' Classic tend to produce chalky results. Why that's the case is anybody's guess, but the likelihood of finding a bomb in either of those races is historically few and far between.

Not surprisingly, the order for exacta, trifecta and superfecta payouts follows a similar pattern to the win payouts. This makes sense due to the fact that a high- or low-priced winner has a large impact on the return on all of the exotic wagers. However, check out the median superfecta payouts and the absolutely huge numbers from the Sprint -- a median of $27,800 for a race that's offered a superfecta 15 times over the history of the Breeders' Cup.2 In other words, eight times the superfecta for the Sprint has paid more than $27,800 for a $2.00 bet -- that's some serious cash. Below are all 15 Sprint superfecta payouts since 1997 ranked from highest to lowest:

Year - Sprint Super Payout
2006: $113.911.80
2003: $62,293.60
2002: $47,327.40
2004: $42,365.20
1997: $40,255.80
2005: $35,358.00
1998: 29,212.00
2010: $27,878.00
2001: $27.799.00
2009: $15,302.00
2000: $10,234.60
2011: $5,554.60
2007: $2,748.80
1999: $1,112.00
2008: $484.60

The 2006 Sprint with its $113,000 Superfecta resulted from a 16/1 winner, 59/1 place horse, 29/1 show horse and a 4/1 horse in the fourth position. Chaos in the second and third finishing positions of the Sprint is nothing unusual; since the Sprint's debut at the inaugural Breeders' Cup in 1984, the median odds of the place and show horses are 13/1 and 11/1, respectively. If you are going to play trifectas and superfectas in the Sprint, you'll likely have to go deep into the field to find the horses finishing behind the winner.

While the exacta, trifecta and superfecta payouts are quite gaudy at the Breeders' Cup, it's the payouts in the Pick 3, Pick 4 and (if you're lucky enough to hit it) the Pick 6 that can truly change the life of a horseplayer on a single day.

The Pick 3 became a staple at the Breeders' Cup in 2002 and has produced a payout over $4,000 for a three-race sequence 17 times out of 77 sequences (22 percent). With an average payout of $2,895.47 and a median of $1,137.40, the Pick 3 is an affordable wager for modest players with a decent return on investment.

The Pick 4 is one of the most popular wagers in the county due to its affordability and its potential for large payouts. Like the Pick 3, the Pick 4 began its Breeders' Cup run in 2002 and has produced a payouts of over $20,000 six times during that span with a median return of $14,377.10.

The Pick 6 is one of the most expensive wagers at the track but, if a player is lucky enough to hit it, it's the only wager that could potentially make you a millionaire. Since the introduction of the Pick 6 to the Breeders' Cup in 2002, the wager has paid a median of $321,813.20, including over $1 million on three occasions ($2.7 million -- 2003; $1.45 million -- 2006; $1.8 million -- 2009).

Whether you like to play exactas, superfectas, Pick 4s, the Ultra Pick 6, or just a simple win bet on a few races over the weekend, the Breeders' Cup provides unparalleled opportunities for a horseplayer to make his or her year with a few successful wagers.

1The Juvenile Sprint debuted in 2011 and was won by the 4/10 favorite Secret Circle.
2Superfectas were first introduced to the Breeders' Cup betting menu in 1997.

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