SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the launch of the Empire 6, a jackpot-style multi-race wager replacing the traditional Pick 6.
The Empire 6, featuring a $0.20 bet minimum and 20 percent takeout, will be added to the wagering menu beginning Wednesday, Aug. 6 and continue through the remainder of the 2019 meet at Saratoga Race Course. The wager requires the bettor to select the first-place finisher of the final six races of the card.
If one unique ticket exists, then 100% of the net pool, plus the jackpot carryover if applicable, will be paid to the winner. If there is no unique wager selecting the first-place finisher in all six races, then 75% of the day's net pool will be distributed to those who selected the first-place finisher in the greatest number of races. The remainder will be added into the jackpot and carried to the next day's Empire 6.
The Empire 6 will offer mandatory payout days on Sunday, August 18 and Monday, September 2, closing day at the Spa.
"The Empire 6 provides the potential for large payouts with small bets. That makes it attractive to the everyday horseplayer," said Tony Allevato, President of NYRA Bets. "Bettors have gravitated to this style of wager and we are pleased to be able to offer it at Saratoga along with the benefit of two mandatory payout days during the meet."
Sam Hollingsworth on the Empire 6:
Since the Pick 6 was a $2 minimum, tickets got expensive fast. Oftentimes, low-budget horseplayers had to team up with friends to get a legit ticket in, or simply not partake.
But the Pick 6 (and similar-style multi-race wagers with large jackpots) is also a bet that, when hit, can seriously change a horseplayer's life. Dropping the minimum wager down to $.20 certainly will help increase the volume of people playing in the pool, as well as the pool size, and make it a more-commonly-placed bet than the Pick 6 was previously.
I can't say for sure whether the move is the "right" or "wrong" one, but it's worth applauding the effort to get more "everyday people" into these betting pools without having to spend hundreds of dollars to have a shot.
Wise Owl on the Empire 6:
The Pick 6 is the Holy Grail of horse racing. I play it in some form almost every day, whether it be a cheap, streamlined ticket totaling $8 or chasing carryovers with friends that might see us put $300 to $400 worth of tickets together.
I am not a fan of the new Empire Pick 6 wager since I am not a fan of the jackpot pick 6 concept, in general, having said that I still do play the Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream during its championship meet.
I'm fine with other tracks having it, but I was really hoping that the NYRA would keep the traditional pick 6 alive. I've hit the Rainbow Pick 6 three times with an average payout of $568 and I've hit a $2 traditional Pick 6 five times with an average payout of $4,482. Given the base cost of the wager ($.20 for Rainbow versus $2 for traditional), the Rainbow Pick 6 payouts have actually been higher than the traditional Pick 6 payouts.
I will still play the pick 6 at Saratoga under the new format, but I do maintain hope that the NYRA will go back to the traditional $2 minimum Pick 6 in the future.
Sam Hollingsworth and Wise Owl are current handicappers for The Pink Sheet.