Filly foils the bridge jumpers

The one sure thing in horse racing is there are no sure things. This was proven again by Indian Blessing in the Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Indian Blessing is one of the country’s best fillies. She was a big favorite at 1-2 odds in the Desert Stormer. But it was in the show pool where bettors thought she was a sure thing. Of $522,293 in show bets, $484,538 was on Indian Blessing.

Chances are there were bettors who wagered $100,000 or more to show on Indian Blessing. They are known as bridge jumpers, because if their big bet loses, that’s where you might find them. Indian Blessing figured to pay a minimum $2.10 to show. A return of 5 percent on a $100,000 investment is $105,000.

Easy money, right? Wrong.

Indian Blessing struggled on the synthetic surface at Hollywood and ran a dismal fourth. The $2 show prices on the in-the-money finishers were a vastly inflated $37.60, $40.60 and $43.60.

This level of bridge-jumper betting occurs 12 to 15 times a season. It’s a crazy strategy. If you lose once, it takes 20 straight winners to get even. In my book, I recommend that newcomers try betting against the bridge jumpers, in hopes of making a score with a small investment.

For example, Indian Blessing was facing six rivals. A $2 show bet on each cost $12 total. Even if the favorite won, you are guaranteed a return of $2.10 on two horses, $4.20 total. Thus, the wager was really $7.80 to try to win $100 or more. In this case, the combined show payout was $121.80, a return of more than 15-1.

As I said, this scenario rarely occurs, but it’s well worth trying to bet dimes to win dollars. If you tried this and won against Indian Blessing, you’ll probably show a profit on the strategy for 2009 even if the rest of the show plays aren’t home runs.

CONTEST — Green Valley Ranch will host the next series of DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship contests today and Saturday. The entry fee is $25 today and $100 Saturday.

PICK 6 — The Hollywood Park Pick 6 was not won for a second straight day Thursday and the carryover for tonight is $522,957.

Even bettors who aren’t regular Pick 6 players should put in a ticket. The pool is a huge positive expectancy, meaning even if a lot of favorites come in, winners will receive a much higher payout regardless.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com.

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