Ever since the Breeders' Cup went to a two-day format in 2007, officials have hoped that no one would hit the pick six on the first day.
In 2010, they got their wish.
Coupled with three mid-priced horses that won the first three races, Shared Account's win at 46-1 in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf almost certainly forced the first carryover in the four-year history of the Breeders' Cup as a two-day event. The Saturday pick six will have an $817,642 seed, a number that should push the pick six handle to a level unseen in years.
"Clearly an $817,000 carryover is something that we've never had at the event, and we're definitely going to be very anxious to see how that affects the betting in the pick six and the rest of the card on Saturday," said Ken Kirchner, the Breeders' Cup's simulcasting consultant, shortly after the 10-race card wrapped up. "It should be a very fun ride."
Total handle for the Friday pick six, which had a guaranteed pool of $750,000, was $1,346,067, with five of six paying $54,509.40. The record handle for the pick six was set in 1998, when bettors wagered $6,494,193. Handle for the pick six for the Breeders' Cup has steadily declined since then as the wagering menu has expanded and bettors have moved more of their wagering dollars to the pick four and rolling pick threes.
Betting-wise, the carryover was not the only good news for Breeders' Cup on Friday. According to the company, total commingled handle for the day's six Breeders' Cup races was $45,393,976, a 13 percent increase over the commingled handle of $40,277,320 last year. Separate-pool wagering from international jurisdictions was not yet available.
In total for the 10-race card, commingled handle was $53,010,624, a 9.4 percent increase over the commingled handle of $48,439,459 for a nine-race Friday card at Santa Anita, according to Breeders' Cup. On track, handle was $8,109,443, up 14 percent compared with the ontrack Friday handle of $7,097,789 last year.
The gains in handle augured especially well for Breeders' Cup considering the protracted decline in handle at most racetracks this year and last year. This was also the first Breeders' Cup to be run on a dirt track in two years, in contrast to the synthetic main track at Santa Anita.
Attendance on a cold, blustery day at Churchill was 41,614, a 10.5 percent gain over the crowd of 37,651 last year at Santa Anita, where weather conditions for the Friday and Saturday cards were ideal.
The last two races on the Friday card, the Filly and Mare Turf and Ladies' Classic, were run under the lights for the first time, and the Classic on Saturday is also expected to be run under the lights. Next year's Breeders' Cup will also be held at Churchill Downs, which installed permanent lights last year, and Breeders' Cup officials have said that they will consider shifting the Friday card further into prime-time for 2011.
Only one favorite won in the six Breeders' Cup races on Friday: Awesome Feather, who was the longest-priced favorite to win a Breeders' Cup race when she won the Juvenile Fillies at 4.20-to-1. The other winners were Eldaafer, ($23.20) in the Marathon; More Than Real, ($29.20) in the Juvenile Fillies Turf; Dubai Majesty, ($19.20) in the Filly and Mare Sprint; Shared Account ($94) in the Filly and Mare Turf; and Unrivaled Belle ($17) in the Ladies' Classic. The average win payoff for the day was $32.
Going into the Saturday card, Kirchner said he was mildly concerned about the high payoffs because of their potential impact on churn, the term that is used to describe the amount of winnings that players bet back into the pools. Typically, churn is higher when payoffs are lower, because money is spread out among more winners and not concentrated in so few hands.
"That's always a concern in situations like this, but there's been so much attention on the Classic [because of unbeaten Zenyatta, the favorite] that we're hopeful that the wagering is going to stay strong tomorrow," Kirchner said. "People saw what happened today, and just how competitive all the races were, and so I think we'll have plenty of attention tomorrow."
The $1 Super High 5 in the Ladies' Classic paid $15,517.60 and attracted $153,080. The Super High 5, which has been implemented by a number of tracks in the past several years, requires a bettor to select the first five finishers in order. Another Super High 5 will be offered for the Classic on Saturday.
Midday, the 4-5 favorite in the Turf, was the shortest-priced horse to fail to win on Friday. The 4-year-old Midday, who won the Filly and Mare Turf last year, finished second this year to the longshot Shared Account while holding off a late charge by the 31-1 Keertana. The order of finish triggered some of the highest exotic prices of the day: $147.60 for the $1 exacta; $1,915.20 for the $1 trifecta; and $12,774,40 for the $1 superfecta.
In the Marathon, Prince Will I Am, the co-second favorite at 5-1, was disqualified from second to 10th, a decision that elevated the 25-1 longshot Gabriel's Hill to second place and significantly boosted the exotic prices. With 10-1 Eldaafer on top and 6-1 A.U. Miner in third place, the $1 exacta was $226.80 and the $1 trifecta was $2,193.50. Giant Oak, the 7-2 favorite, was fourth, filling out a $1 superfecta that paid $11,934.
The Juvenile Turf Fillies, the day's second Breeders' Cup race, also had a blow-out superfecta price that was keyed by the 13-1 win of More Than Real. With even-money favorite Winter Memories second, 7-1 Kathmanblu third, and the 73-1 Forest Legend fourth, the $1 superfecta paid $6,610.60.
The Breeders' Cup pick six handle for the Friday races last year was $1,503,616, about $150,000 above the pick six handle this year. However, bettors seemed to put more of their focus and money into the pick four this year, wagering $2,045,401, a 49.1 percent increase over the pick four handle last year of $1,371,372. The pick four had a $750,000 guarantee this year, and its minimum was reduced to 50 cents. The 50-cent payoff was $17,064.75.
The trifecta minimum was also reduced to 50 cents, a move that appeared to bump up handle slightly when compared to trifecta pools last year.