The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono Week In Review

August 26-September 1, 2017

This is usually the space where we hand out Weekly Awards, but I thought I’d take a break from that this week to address a recent phenomenon at the track. That phenomenon is Rainbow Pick 5 Fever!

For those who might have missed it, here’s the gist of it. The Rainbow Pick 5 is a wager that requires a bettor to pick the winners of five consecutive races. But that’s not all. If there are multiple winning tickets on a given night, the winners share in a small percentage of the pool. The remainder of the pool carries over to the next night, and that can continue indefinitely until there is a single winning ticket.

Well, it looked like the wager might carry on infinitely instead of indefinitely at Pocono over the past few months, as night after racing night the Pick 5 was hit by multiple tickets instead of just one. The jackpot skyrocketed to $230,534.56 in the meantime, so it was decided to freeze it for a few weeks and give everyone a shot for a piece of that overflowing pie. On Sunday night, September 3, there will be a mandatory payout of that jackpot, meaning that even multiple winning tickets will get to share in the entirety of that huge sum of money instead of just a portion of it.

Think about it: Say the pool rises to $250,000 (after the 15 percent track takeout) or so on Sunday night with all of the betting action and, at the end of the night, there are ten winning tickets. That would mean those ten would pocket $25,000 apiece. Considering that they would have received a fraction of that without the mandatory payout, it’s easy to understand why this event Sunday night is such a big deal.

You might say, “That’s all good and fine, but picking the winner of one race is hard enough. Picking five in a row is like hitting the lottery.” But the Rainbow Pick 5 allows you to make picks for just twenty cents apiece. That means for a two-dollar wager, you can play ten different combinations of winners for the five races.

And that’s where the strategy that makes this wager so fascinating comes into play. If you come with the idea in your head that you’re going to spend a little money to give yourself the best possible chance to win, you still have to decide how to spread that money around. For example, you might find a race within the Pick 5 where you think a horse in the field is a can’t-miss winner. In that case, you might make him your only pick from that race, which would allow you to pick maybe six, seven or even all the horses from another race.

On the other hand, you might prefer to hedge your bets in each of the Pick 5 races, playing multiple horses in each race. Just remember that each horse you include in your ticket drives up the price of your wager a little bit. But what if the horse that you leave out at the last minute is the one who comes in as a long shot and would have separated your ticket from all the other bettors out there?

Again, that’s the kind of “what if” that makes the Rainbow Pick 5 so addictive. I don’t wager on the races at Pocono. I’m not forbidden to do so by any rules, but I made the choice that I wouldn’t while calling the races so that I would remain objective at all times. But I have been filling out a hypothetical Pick 5 ticket each night just to see how I would do. And what I’ve learned is that it takes a pretty good-sized wager, maybe a minimum of $40, to give yourself a chance that’s more than just a dart throw. Otherwise you have to be absolutely dead-on with your handicapping and hope that no long shots spoil the party, which, over the span of five races, is a distinct possibility.

Doing it that way, I’ve been able to hit the Rainbow Pick 5 with my pretend tickets about one out of every four racing nights. It’s not the best percentage, but, considering the amount of money on the line, I’d take those odds in a heartbeat.

Maybe you have your own strategy for the Pick 5. Or maybe you’ll just pick your favorite numbers or names and let Lady Luck work her magic. Again, what makes this wager such a cool deal is that there’s no one way to approach it.

We’re expecting Sunday night September 3rd to be a big night at the track, as bettors of all stripes will be lining up to take a portion of that lucrative payout home with them. However it turns out, there’s no doubt that the Rainbow Pick 5 has spiced up what has already been a thrilling racing meet at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

That will do it for this week, but we’ll see you at the track. Feel free to e-mail me at jbeviglia@mohegansunpocono.com.

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