All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Friday, April 12, 2013

It’s Official: Virginia Gold Cup To Feature Pari-Mutuel Wagering

Add to the list of cooler, picnic, hat, sunscreen and sunglasses a new must have item:  CASH.

Yes, one of the nation’s largest steeplechase races celebrates its 88th anniversary with the approval of pari-mutuel betting on the races. The Virginia Gold Cup (and the International Gold Cup in October) are now the only two steeplechases in Virginia to offer legal pari-mutuel wagering.

Yes, the real kind. Not a dollar bet with your friends, but actual pari-mutuel wagering where you wager against everybody else who is wagering at Great Meadow. 

Just like a traditional racetrack, the types of betting will include what the industry calls “straight” wagers known as “win,” “place,” and “show.”  A “win” pet pays out when the horse you bet on wins. Tough one, huh?  A “place” bet pays if your horse finishes first or second, and a “show” bet pays if your horse comes in first, second or third.  The payout amounts typically decrease as the wager becomes less exact – win wagers pay more than show wagers as a rule.

OK, that was the easy part. The Gold Cup will also offer “exotic” wagers – sounds sexy doesn’t it?  The first exotic is the traditional “daily double” where you win if you can pick the winners of the first two races.  Two things are required: You have to be there before the first race and you have to place this bet before the first race begins.  So if you think the #4 hourse is going to win the first race and the #6 horse is going to win the second race, you can buy a 4-6 daily double.

That brings us to the “exacta” which is derived from the word exact.  If you think #3 is going to win and #9 is going to be second, you buy a 3-9 exacta ticket and you win that wager if the those two horses finish first and second in that exact order.  In short, #3 does in fact finish first and #9 finishes second.

The inexact version of the exacta is the “quinella,” which stems from the Spanish word that means “game of chance.”  This game is a little easier, because you win if your horses come in first and second no matter the order.  So if the final result it #3 first and #9 second or the other way around, you win as long as those two are first and second. Simply put, the quinella pays less than the exacta, but it’s a little easier to win.   

Finally, there is the “trifecta” which, of course, derives from triple. This wager requires that you pick the first three finishers of the race in the exact order. Because of the difficulty of getting this exactly right, this wager usually produces the largest payout.

So bring your CASH. The minimum needed to place a bet is $1. Yes, one, uno, a single.

There will be betting kiosk around the race course and you can simply stroll over and place your bets.  The information on the horses running in each race will be available in the program or you can bet on colors and numbers like most of us usually do.  But, if you want to be scientific about it, the data will be available.

Have fun. 

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