HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — It’s a horseplayer’s dream: Take two dimes, pick six winners, win millions.
Farfetched, but not impossible.
After months building an already-enormous pot, the “Rainbow 6” betting pool at Gulfstream Park will be paid out in full today with track officials estimating that $16 million — potentially a record for a Pick 6 at any North American track — could be up for grabs. To win, players need to pick six straight winners, starting with the fifth race on the card, and the minimum bet is a mere 20 cents.
“There’s a possibility, if somebody wants to play a birthday for 20 cents and something really goofy happens with longshots, there’s a chance a guy could walk away with the entire pot,” Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo said Sunday. “There’s always the chance.”
As of Sunday morning, there were 11 or 12 horses in each of the six races, which means a whopping 2,509,056 possible combinations of winners.
Want to bet them all? It would cost $501,811.20.
That would hardly guarantee a multi-million-dollar payout, however.
“Obviously, we know if all the favorites came in, that guy would get creamed,” Ritvo said. “But will there be people to step up and spend half a million? We’re hearing syndicates are being put together for $200,000, $300,000, $400,000. I would think it’s going to be tough to have no combinations covered, but there’s still a scenario where that could happen.”
Entering Sunday’s card, there was nearly $6.4 million already in Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 carryover pool, which has been growing since the bet was last hit Jan. 10. Under typical circumstances, not only would a horseplayer have to pick all six winners to claim the pot — but also have the only ticket with those six winners.
That won’t be the case today, when the Rainbow 6 will get plenty of attention at tracks around the country.
Gulfstream Park isn’t allowed to carry over pools from one racing season to the next, and under Florida law that means the Rainbow 6 would have to be paid out before the state’s fiscal year ends next month. So Gulfstream, in response to some customers’ requests, applied for permission to make Memorial Day the payout day.
“All the major tracks will be in action on Memorial Day. There will be some big races, and it will provide us the best reach to all our loyal customers,” Ritvo said.
The record pool for a Pick 6 is $10,870,852.60, a figure reached July 2, 2007, at Hollywood Park. There were 13 winners out of that pool, each getting $576,064.40.
In February 2013, a bettor in New Jersey won Gulfstream’s Rainbow 6 for a record $3,591,245.44.
When Gulfstream Park officials came up with this idea, they never envisioned something like what’s coming today was even possible.
Then again, maybe it’s the year where small risks pay giant rewards, akin to the story of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome — bred from an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion, and now one race away from winning a Triple Crown.
“The bet has always been designed to try to give the smaller guy an opportunity to make a life-changing bet,” Ritvo said. “We got lucky here, and we’ve got this jackpot that everybody in the entire racing community is talking about.”