| The Eighth Pole
Any horseplayer that’s been around for any length of time is used to hearing horror stories involving wagers.
Mistakes made on horse numbers and wagering amounts can produce a memorable nightmare that might last forever. Not to mention the dreaded disqualification that can make you physically, mentally, and spiritually ill for a very long time.
Finding out you won but realizing you’ve lost or misplaced your tickets can be a lot of fun too.
But here are several great stories that went the opposite way for a few very lucky gamblers and ended in happiness.
• On Saturday, October 10, 2020, at Newcastle Racecourse in Australia, an unidentified bettor made a hefty quinella box in the sixth race. The eager Aussie used five horses in his $60 quinella wager and two of the five had to run first and second for the man to collect. The five horse box cost a total of $600, or so he thought. The horses he used in the wager went off at odds of 6/1, 19/1, 35/1, 41/1, and 151/1, so if the ticket hit, it would result in a large payoff. The man thoroughly rejoiced after watching one of his horses win the race at odds of 35/1 while another of his selected runners took second place at odds of 41/1. The winning quinella paid off $103 for every dollar wagered and the man could hardly believe he just won $62,000. But it turned out to be much more due to a mistake. When the man checked his account the payment wasn’t the $62,000 he envisioned. It seems the gambler accidentally added an extra zero on his wager amount and he bet $6,000 instead of the $600 he had planned on laying out. His winning payout came out to $621,840. The mistake of an added zero earned the horseplayer an extra $560,000.
• On Kentucky Derby day in 2005, Phoenix firefighter Christopher Hertzog arrived at Turf Paradise Racecourse to wager on the “run for the roses” on the simulcast feed. Chris laid out a total of $100 on the Derby; buying fifty $1 straight trifecta tickets and fifty $1 straight superfecta “quick picks.” A quick pick is similar to a lottery wager where the gambler leaves it up to the computer to pick random numbers on the race. Brenda Reagan was the mutual clerk who punched Chris’ tickets and after the Derby, she was informed by the mutual director that a winning superfecta ticket worth $864,253 was sold from her window and she knew it was Chris. “He was the only one who played quick picks,” Brenda said. She located Chris to tell him of his large payoff but the reaction wasn’t the one she expected.
“I had already tossed my tickets,” Chris said. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Track management collected all the trash on the grounds and emptied the garbage cans in the area where Chris said he discarded his tickets. Chris and his friends spent the next two hours sorting through a few metric tons of Derby day refuse but the winning ticket was not found. Understandably, Chris went home extremely dejected. The next day at about 4:00 pm, Brenda Reagan noticed two mutual tickets lying by the side of her machine, and upon closer inspection, she realized the tickets were superfecta quick picks from the previous day’s Kentucky Derby. One of the small pieces of paper turned out to be the lost winning ticket.
“When I punched out Chris’ tickets, there were so many that they bunched up and these two must have fallen to the side,” Brenda said. “I informed management and they called Chris right away.” Chris came down to the racetrack and collected his $864,253.
“I never knew I had so many emotions,” said Chris. “I couldn’t believe I lost this once in a lifetime payday. It’s unbelievable that it was found. What a roller coaster ride this has been. Just unbelievable. Don’t you just love happy endings?”
Rumor has it that Chris left his ticket writer/ticket finder a very nice tip.
• An Australian man, who only wanted to be known as “Kenny,” made a $10 bet on the 2019 Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse. He picked four horses to finish in the top four positions and they had to come in that exact order. He laid out the ten bucks on a straight “final four,” which is known as a superfecta in the US. He happened to be on a date with a girl that day at the track and the couple watched the race together over an adult beverage. But Kenny wasn’t sure if he won and with a wild bet like that, he assumed he did not. The girl asked if he had won. “I put those horses on, (my ticket) I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll check later.” The date continued on but Kenny’s girl wasn’t impressed by him or their boring day at the racetrack.
“Listen, Kenny, I can’t really feel it,” she said. “This is not gonna go anywhere. I’ve got to get the five o’clock train.” Kenny said he understood and thanked her for her honesty. With the date pretty much over, Kenny’s attention shifted back towards the ponies. “I’ll be completely honest with you, I watched the race, and I was not aware,” he said. “I was completely oblivious. I thought at least the day’s not over, I’ll open up my account, there’s still a couple of races to go in the Majors. I opened up my account and started screaming.” Kenny showed his account info to his date and she started screaming too. Kenny’s $10 wager had produced a whopping payoff of $545,081. But he had no idea of the twist and turns the race took for his numbers to come in. The second-place finisher in the contest was disqualified for interference in the stretch and was placed fourth. The new official order of finish matched Kenny’s final four numbers. After learning of Kenny’s new windfall, his date had a sudden change of heart. She now felt like the date wasn’t so bad.
“The five o’clock train turned into a seven o’clock train,” he said. “She kept going to the bar and getting drinks.” Kenny eventually sent her packing. “Listen, you better get your train,” he said. “I’m not joking either.” The Aussie gambler said he planned on keeping his job but he would treat himself to some really good stuff and would probably purchase property on the Gold Coast.
Millions for pocket change
Florida’s Gulfstream Park hosts the daily jackpot Rainbow Pick-6 wager and although it started out as a ten-cent bet, it increased to twenty cents several years ago and is available every day that Gulfstream runs.
The wager involves picking consecutive winners in the last six races at the Florida racetrack. To claim the big jackpot prize, you must hold the only winning ticket sold on that day’s victorious combo. If there’s more than one winner in the pick-6 that day, 70% of the pool goes towards paying those people, and the remaining 30% rolls over to the next day’s jackpot. The pools can get pretty wild and the payoffs pretty sweet.
• On September 27, 2019, an unidentified bettor laid out $230.40 on a .20-cent Pick-6 wager at Gulfstream Park. The winning numbers in the six-race sequence came back 5-1-3-9-6-5 and the lucky dude was the only unique ticket holder and received $2,211,783 for his handicapping skills.
• On February 21, 2013 a bettor managed to pick winners that paid $114, $11.40, $36.80, $17.20, $23.60 and $23. The Pick-6 winning numbers of 1-9-8-6-4-7 returned $3,591,245 for a dime, as this was before Gulfstream increased it’s minimum pick-6 wager to twenty cents. There was no info available as to how much the ticket cost but whatever Mr. Lucky laid out, it seems it was well worth it.
• On May 25, 2014, Thoroughbred owner Daniel Borislow hit the granddaddy of them all after putting in a twenty-cent pick-6 ticket for $7,603.20. The winning combination of 1-8-6-1-6-5 was worth a whopping $6,678,939 and a meaningless twelve cents to Dan, who was the lone winner of the large prize. He didn’t leave a whole lot up to chance, as he used ALL the horses in five of the six-race legs and used two horses (the second and third favorites) in the remaining race.
“I’ve been one of the larger bettors for a period of years,” Barislow said. “I guess, probably, I’ve gotten good at it. I really liked that race and I keyed (two horses) that race and it worked out well.”
“First of all, I want to congratulate the winner,” said Gulfstream Park President Tim Ritvo on that day to Dan. “We designed the Rainbow Six to be a life-changing wager.”
Yes, it did work out rather well for Dan. He picked the right ones and grabbed a $6.6 million life-changing score for an investment of some pocket change.
Happiness awaits us all and it’s always only a race or two away.