What is a Pick 4 in Horse Racing?
Simply put, a bettor must pick the winning horse of 4 consecutive races to win this type of bet. Most North American race tracks offer a Pick 4 Wager throughout their race card. Typically, a track will offer two Pick 4 Races on the card, and Early Pick 4 and a Late Pick 4.
The track dictates which races are part of a Pick 4 sequence for the day. For instance, the early Pick 4 could start with Race#2 and end with Race#5. Then the late Pick 4 could start with Race#8 and end with Race#11. This gives the player two chances at wagering on a Pick 4 for the day.
Why would you want to play a Pick 4 Wager?
An experienced handicapper will play a Pick 4 because the Payouts could be larger than a Win, Place and Show Wager. If you’re fortunate enough that the favorite does not win a race but a longshot does, the Pick 4 payouts can be very substantial.
The Pick 4 usually has a higher payout than if you played a Pick 3 or another exotic type wagering.
Who wagers on a Pick 4?
Usually an experienced player will wager on a multi-races because they have the bankroll and experience. Players that have a smaller bankroll can Play a Pick 4 but it can become challenging because you would have to single out (pick only one horse in a race) a horse to keep the cost down. A small investment could possibly turn into a high return.
How do you play a Pick 4?
There are many ways to construct Pick 4 tickets. Whether you like to play multiple tickets with many horses in each race (although the cost will add up) or to single a horse in one of the legs of the race to keep cost down.
One thing is for sure, always be prepared by using the Past Performance tools available to you such as STATS Race Lens or the Daily Racing Form.
Can you hit a Pick 4 wager for a nice return?
You bet you can! Here is a screenshot of a healthy payout from a recent Pick 4 wager at Santa Anita Park. It didn’t hurt that in leg #2 (Race 9) a horse at 25/1 odds won the race and in the final leg (Race 11) a 15/1 odds on horse won the race.
Odds for all the winners were as follows.
Race #8: 3/1
Race #9: 25/1
Race #10: 2/1
Race #11: 15/1
A bet total of $48 returned a whopping $1,306.65! I’ll take that every time!
The following screenshot is an example of a Pick 4 bet. This Pick 4 started in Race #5 and goes through Race #8. In this example, I did not single out a horse in any of the races.
- In Leg 1 (Race #5) my selections to win this race were #3 along with #7. Either horse must win the race.
- In Leg 2 (Race #6) I selected 3 horses to win this race, #5, #7 and #8. One of those horses must win this race.
- In Leg 3 (Race #7) I selected 3 horses to win this race, #1, #2 and #4. One of those horses must win this race.
- In Leg 4 (Race #8) which is the final leg of the Pick 4, I selected 3 horses to win this race, #1, #4, and #9. Once again, one of those horses must win the race.
To figure out what the cost of your Pick 4 Wager would be, you multiply the number of horses in each leg of the Pick 4. In this case (screenshot above) the math would be 2 x 3 x 3 x 3 = $54.00.
However, divide that in half because the wager was the minimum of $0.50 cents which equals $27.00 for this bet. Therefore, if I had played it for $1.00, the total cost of the bet would be $54.00.
In the next screenshot below, I used a “single” in the first leg of the Pick 4.
- In Leg 1 (Race #5) my “single” selection to win this race was #7. The #7 horse must win this race.
- In Leg 2 (Race #6) I selected 2 horses to win this race, #6, and #7. One of those horses must win this race.
- In Leg 3 (Race #7) I selected 2 horses to win this race, #4, and #5. One of those horses must win this race.
- In Leg 4 (Race #8) which is the final leg of the Pick 4, I selected 3 horses to win this race, #1, #3, and #9. Once again, one of those horses must win the race.
Notice by “singling-out” a horse in one of the Legs of the Pick 4, the cost of this bet is reduced to $6.00.
Good Luck and be sure to check out our Horse Racing Handicapping Habits to Avoid!
I am fortunate enough to live in upstate New York very close (about 25 minutes) from the Saratoga Race Track. I have been going to the track all of my life, since I was a little girl, and I brought my children there, but I’ve just never really had any kind of “strategy” when it comes to betting. We’d pick the names of horses we liked, and of course we rarely won anything. Now that my kids are grown, I’d like to go and actually have a sense that I know what I’m doing, and so I am happy to come across your site. I’m hoping to learn some new strategies for this coming August!
The race track is fun for all ages, kids love watching the horses and adults enjoy wagering on them. lol, I have never been to Saratoga Race Track but hope to make it there someday. I use to live in PA and went to Parx Rack Track many times, but now I live in FL and have been to Gulfstream Park and Tamps Bay Downs. They are both great race tracks also and offer some big race cards.
I will be adding some Horse Racing Strategies in the near future, be sure to check back. Until then check out our 10 Handicapping Habits to Avoid.
Best of luck!