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Kentucky Derby bettor in Las Vegas turns $8 into $78K

One bettor in Las Vegas was particularly ecstatic with the controversial final result of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

Bettors who wagered on Maximum Security lost about $9 million when the favored colt was disqualified for interference 22 minutes after crossing the finish the line first, according to Twinspires.com, Churchill Downs’ online wagering service.

But a horseplayer at The Mirage racebook turned $8 into $78,000 when Country House, a 65-1 long shot, was declared the winner and the rest of the results were reset.

The gambler hit two identical $4 superfectas that paid $51,400 each, $39,065 after taxes. To win a superfecta, a bettor must pick the first four finishers of a race in the exact order. The winning superfecta was 20-13-8-5 (Country House was No. 20, Code of Honor No. 13, Tacitus No. 8 and Improbable No. 5).

The unidentified Mirage bettor’s $4 wager keyed 20, 13 to win with 20, 13 to place with 5, 8 to show with 5, 8 to finish fourth.

“It was a miracle,” The Mirage sportsbook shift manager Scott Shelton said. “He must’ve been a saint in a previous life running into buildings to get babies or something for everything to happen for him to cash those tickets.

“I don’t know if anyone else in the country bet $4 to win that super. To do it basically straight and have a horse come down so he can win, that was a miracle.”

Shelton said the bettor is a regular at The Mirage who watched the race with his mother and was astonished when he realized he’d hit the superfecta — twice.

“He was basically in shock,” Shelton said. “He doesn’t bet big at all.”

The Mirage had a packed house for the Derby but Shelton said it got pretty quiet when Maximum Security was disqualified.

“When they changed the horse, the line to cash went from full to empty,” Shelton said. “There were a lot of long faces. A lot of people had the 7 (Maximum Security).”

$100 to win $6,500

A group of three bettors in a standing-room-only crowd at Sunset Station sportsbook exploded when Country House was declared the winner.

“There were three guests who had $100 on Country House to win,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “They were hooting and hollering and were pretty excited to win $6,500 for a small investment.”

The MGM and Station Casinos didn’t offer wagering in the Kentucky Derby futures market, only betting in the national pari-mutuel pool.

DQ helps, hurts books

The Westgate and William Hill did take futures on the Derby. The disqualification resulted in a swing in William Hill’s favor but it flipped the Westgate from a five-figure winner to a five-figure loser.

“Most of our money was written on pari-mutuels. We wrote like $60,000 on (the futures),” Westgate sportsbook manager Ed Salmons said. “It was just a disappointing result. The Derby is the one race in horse racing that’s still big and, to me, they ruined it.”

$10 refunds at Twinspires

Bettors who wagered on Maximum Security to win will receive refunds up to $10 at Twinspires.com, the company posted on Twitter.

“All these refunds are from New Jersey and startup companies and they’re doing it for publicity,” Salmons said. “If you read the fine print, the max (refund) is $5 or $10.”

Las Vegas books aren’t offering refunds on the Derby.

“No, because it’s not possible,” Salmons said. “These pari-mutuel bets are run through the pari-mutuel system and you can’t void pari-mutuel tickets after the events run.

“You would have to hand-pay them. It would be a logistical nightmare.”

Country House paid $132.40 to win, $56.60 to place and $24.60 to show. A $2 exacta, in which bettors must pick the first two finishers in order, paid $3,009.60. The trifecta (first three finishers in order) paid $5,737.65.

Derby handle up

Churchill Downs said wagering on the Kentucky Derby increased 10 percent to a record $165.5 million, surpassing the old mark of $149.9 million set last year.

The track in Louisville, Kentucky said wagering from all sources on the 14-race card totaled a record $250.9 million, up 11 percent over last year’s total of $225.7 million.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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