PW’s Show Parlay System

PW’s Show Parlay System

If you want some leisurely fun with a small bankroll, and have several hours to participate, you may find a show parlay worth considering.

First, remember that in thoroughbred racing only 33% of the betting favorites win. However, they are “in the money” (first, second or third) 85% of the time. If a bettor can eliminate false favorites, betting to SHOW becomes a high percentage winner.

Let’s review a partial checklist for identifying a false favorite:

1. A “drop-down” in price that looks like it should be odds-on, but is a lukewarm favorite at 5/2 or 2-1.

2. Returning from a lengthy layoff. Check the trainer’s record for lay-offs.

3. A “closer” in a race with no early speed.

4. When it’s muddy or sloppy and the favorite shows no success on “off” tracks.


Legitimate favorites at even money or less are always good show bets. At Keeneland the payoff is at least ten percent. In New York and California it is 5 percent.


How does one find a SHOW bet with a larger percentage return? There are several things to consider.

1. Check the amounts bet in the show pool, particularly is there is a strong entry. Often an entry will pay more to show than place if both horses are “on the board”.

2. The other side of that approach is an entry that is a “false favorite”. A classic example of that was the Calumet entry of two stake horses returning from a long layoff in an allowance race at Pimlico in the 1960s. With only four other horses competing, a huge amount was wagered on the entry to SHOW. They ran fourth and fifth, and the show payoff was forty to fifty dollars for 2.

3. With several “speed” horses in the race, a “closer” makes a good show bet.

4. A single “speed” horse in a race makes a good show bet.

5. On “off” tracks a horse showing most successes when muddy or good is a show bet.

6. A favorite with a leading rider for a leading trainer is a solid show bet.


Now to the SHOW parlay.

You can bet any increment that you want, but for the sake of discussion ... lets assume you just want to bet the minimum $2 just to be "in action" at one of the sportsbooks on the strip ... this can be a great way to sit back, people watch, and enjoy the days sporting events with a free drink or two and hopefully make some money. 

Bet $2 on a favorite. If it pays $2.80, add twenty cents and bet $3 on the next selection.

Pick a target amount at which you will hesitate in the parlay to prevent “giving it all back”. Say $10.00. Take out $5 and start a new parlay with $5 your first bet and a $20 goal.


Last week I reached a $200 show bet from a $2 start. My starting bank roll was $20, which is $2.00 for 10 races ... my ending bankroll was $688.40.  However, I was simulcast betting from noon to 9PM.  It’s a very slow process.

(my stop loss points were $50 and $100)

Here's what I mean: (Here is a sample progression from my notes)

1st bet: $2.00 show - pay 3.60
2nd bet: $4.00 show - pay 7.60 (3.80 on a $2.00 ticket)
3rd bet: $8.00 - pay 17.20 (4.30 on a $2.00 ticket)
4th bet $18.00 -  pay 25.20 (2.80 on a $2.00 ticket)

**** First timers ... lock at $25 and start at $10.00 bet
(Notice we a rounding down - lock a bit each time)

5th bet $24.00 - pay $31.20 ($2.60 on a $2.00 ticket)
6th bet $30.00 - pay $ 58.50 ($3.90 on a $2.00 ticket)
7th bet $50.00 - pay $102.50 ($4.10 on a $2.00 ticket)

**** First lock point should be either $50 or $100. Lock in profit - repeat last bet ... continue to next lock point.

8th bet $50.00 - pay $85.00 ($3.40 on a $2.00 ticket)
9th bet $84.00 - pay $121.80 ($2.90 on a $2.00 ticket)
10th bet $120 - pay $168.00 ($2.80 on a $2.00 ticket)

Continue the progression and lock at $200 ... set your next lock point and keep going ...


Obviously this is “fun and games” with a limited bankroll and lots of time. But it is great sport, and you will learn a lot about handicapping in the process. It may be very useful when you switch modes to the exotics and a serious bang for some bucks.

Have fun!