What would be the end of the story wasn't, however.
As "Q Racing" explains here, Fit To Rule took a late hit on the odds board, knocking him down from 8-1 to 6-1. At 8-1 Mr. Arias loses, at 6-1 he wins. This led to some speculation that Mr. Arias or someone in his camp bet $10,000 to win as a "hedge" or to knock down the odds enough so he was a winner. First place was $750,000, second place was $200,000; a big difference.
Former NHC Champion Michael Beychok said:
"The whole possibility of some sort of nefarious hedging being done by Arias is a non-starter with me.
Of course he hedged. I would have and my cast members on Horseplayers discussed this possibility ad nauseum during the three day contest and immediately before the final race went off.
If somehow - and this is not as difficult to orchestrate, as some would lead you to believe - the bet on Fit To Rule was designed to win the $750,000 by driving the odds down below the magic number and blindsiding an opponent who is unable to fight back, then we get into a whole other area. It gets greasy. No real gambler I know would want to go there, although I am sure there are some.
So far we've seen nothing from anyone involved in the contest on this matter. Peter Fornatale has promised a DRF article on the subject, and it looks like he believes nothing untoward went on. Others like a Las Vegas horseplayer on Asaro's email list have commented that 'they hate to see Jose's accomplishment tarnished by grassy knoll conspiracy theories."
As TimeformUS's CJ said on Paceadvantage, there's an easy way to fix this (remember we might/probably be fixing something that did not happen, but it is what it is) next year:
"I just see no reason a track wouldn't agree to close a pool for one race one time a year for the last race of the contest. That way everyone can see the odds and the totals could be tabulated before the off time."
Strangely enough, this whole chatter about the final table, strategy and
**** Update: Jose talks about the win here ****