Lucky numbers reap rich rewards on Derby Day in Vegas

After 50-to-1 shot Mine That Bird crossed the finish line first to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, horseplayers took a second look at his past performances and were perplexed at how such a lowly-looking beast could win America’s greatest horse race.

Many bettors have been wondering ever since how anybody could wager on a runner who looked like Mine That Bird.

Yes, Mine That Bird had decent enough breeding being out of Birdstone, who was a Belmont Stakes winner and is the son of Kentucky Derby winner Grindstone. But his Beyer Speed Figures were extremely low, his trainer won only one race for the year and the gelding broke his maiden in a $62,500 claiming race.

For some, it’s a real head scratcher. But for others — those who really hit it big — Mine That Bird’s win was one of the best things that every happened to them.

Two players at Station Casinos reaped rich rewards by doing no handicapping at all. Instead, they played lucky numbers and made spontaneous wagers using their intuition. 

At the Green Valley Ranch casino just outside of Las Vegas, a guy in his 30’s made bets minutes before the race and cashed out for $57,030, and at Santa Fe Station a Las Vegas car salesman turned a five-horse $1 superfecta box, which totaled of $120, into a $278,500 payday.

On Tuesday, a race & sports book employee at Green Valley Ranch told me  that a bettor came up to the counter with his girlfriend just before post time for the Kentucky Derby. With an overflow crowd in the book and excitement in the air, he asked what was going on.

“The Kentucky Derby’s about ready to start,” the employee said.

“Can I still bet it?” the man asked.

He was told that he could, and as the horses approached the gate, the bettor looked up at the odds board and said he wanted $100 to win on both #8 (Mine That Bird) and #15 (Dunkirk). Then he said he wanted a $50 exacta #8 with #16 (Pioneerof the Nile).

He was asked if he was sure he didn’t mean 8-15  and not 8-16 because he bet both #8 and #15 to win. The bettor said to just leave it 8-16.

Mine That Bird shot up the rail to dominate the Derby and Pioneerof the Nile won a three-way photo for second. The winner paid $103.20 and the $2 exacta was $2,074.80.

After the race, GVR’s staff told the player that he just won big. He was asking how much, but they really didn’t want to speculate. The writer ran the tickets through the betting machine and the winner was dumbfounded when the number $57,030 lit up on the screen.

“When he found out he just won $55,000 he dropped to his knees in front of the counter,” the GVR worker told me.

At Santa Fe Station, the bettor who won the $278,500 jackpot told Gaming Today that he just bet on lucky numbers, was not a regular horseplayer and spent no time handicapping the race.

© Maiden King, 2009.

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