Bad beats are common for horseplayers so I rarely speak of them here (who wants to know mine when they have tons of them themselves?), but I was reading the rail blog today at the New York Times about bad beats, and it made me think about my 2005 Kentucky Derby. It still gives me a chill.
If you like betting stories, read on; you might enjoy it.
2005 was the year of Bellamy Road, Afleet Alex, and a few others. Afleet Alex - a tremendous talent - and Bellamy Road off his Wood win looking virtually unbeatable were the two most likely's. The crowd was expected to box those two, and you could not argue with that too much. With the Derby, however, you do not get rich betting chalk. If you want to make a life-changing score (especially with $1 minimums on supers) you have to invest in the $100M pools by betting horses that very few want to bet.
That year I was sold Closing Argument would be my horse. He was sick earlier in the year, had talent, and looked to be coming into the Derby off a mediocre line (the Blue Grass where he was 3rd). He seemed to finally be fit and ready for a decent effort at 10f, and he was sure to be long odds.
Constructing my tickets around him on top was not easy. I knew if I was going to score I had to leave Bellamy off as my swing horse (I would use him in all's only), and that meant Afleet Alex would probably be my swing horse. I was worried about him though. His health did not seem to be top-shelf.
I had a couple of other possibles as swing horses - Wilko and Giacomo. Wilco looked like a horse who could hit the board at a price, and Giacomo I had bet in Futures in December after his second place finish in California, where I thought he showed something. Why not use my futures horse? Well, I might have popped $50 at 30-1 in December, but I hated him in May. I settled on Wilko.
My tickets would be structured with Closing Argument winning, and Wilko hitting the board (using alls in the two three positions for tris). I also would use Alex, because he was longer than Bellamy and I liked his talent level. I sat out the exacta pool because I was not made of money and could not bet everything. For supers (which were $1 minimum) I had to be a little more careful. Using Closing Argument on top with Wilko & Alex swinging in the two, three, four positions would have cost thousands, and I was not going to do that. So I made the following ticket:
Closing Argument onto Wilko & Afleet Alex onto 5 horses onto All and swung those all around on four tickets. I also took a super ticket with 5 horses onto CA with my two swing horses for third.
In addition I was an early adopter at Betfair here in Canuckland and loved following that action. Closing Argument, who was 70-1 on the board, was 270-1 at Betfair. I got matched for about $80 on him.
I was set. Win bets, tri's, supers were all done.
As you all know Argument finished second by a half to Giacomo and Afleet Alex was third. Since I had all's for fourth in my super, all I needed to do was use my futures pick - Giacomo - as one of my five swing horses on top. That's it! If I did I cash a super that paid $864,000 (technically half that amount).
But I didn't.
I might be the only person in Derby history who has win bets on a 70-1 shot and a 30-1 shot who run one-two in the Derby, who does not even break even. Even a $1 exacta wheel up and down for $40 gets me back close to $5000. All I had was the futures ticket on Giacomo.
Immediately after the race the phone rang. It was a friend who plays once every year or two.
"Thanks for the tip on Giacomo" he said. He went to Vegas and bet $20 in the futures pool when I mentioned I liked him way back in January. He was thrilled.
That's a beat I will always remember.
Do you have one?
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