We all have bad beat stories.
They’re great fodder in our story-telling libraries to tap into at the right time. We share them during dinner, between hands at the poker table, or at the bar.
Our friends, and enemies, are entertained by our anguish. Everyone who has ever made a bet can relate, because they have one, too.
Nonetheless, I think I’ve found the worst bad beat of all time.
At Gulfstream Park on Fountain of Youth Saturday, one bettor held a ticket on the 12 horse, Collinito, to take down the Rainbow 6 with a $1.2 million carryover.
A little backstory on the Rainbow 6: The full jackpot is only paid out when there is “one unique ticket” on the winning combination. So not only do you have to beat the horses, you have to beat all the other handicappers, too. It’s one of the biggest sucker bets I’ve ever seen, and lord knows I’ve seen plenty. I’ve even invented some myself in my life as a bookmaker.
In the final race of the day, maiden-claimers going a mile and one-sixteenth on the turf, Luis Saez took the 16/1 Collinito right to the front from the 12 post. Saez and Collinto held a large early lead with some fast early fractions. Around the turn, the rest of the field began to catch up to the frontrunner.
Usually a horse in that position fades, finishing out of the money. Not this day, though. Collinito had enough left in the tank to hold off the field and finish first under the wire.
I can’t imagine the anguish. After winning races 7, 8, 9 and 10, this guy had to sweat Wildcat Red nosing out General a Rod in a great stretch duel to capture the Fountain of Youth. Then he had to wait 32 minutes for the 12th race just to go to post knowing $1.3 million was on the line.
Now he had to watch for 1:42.59 as a cheap maiden-claimer held off a full field while leading at every pole. At this point I’m sure he felt it was well worth all the torture.
Mr. One-ticket was probably slapping high fives and buying drinks all around. He had just won a life-altering bet.
Then some of us began to notice the “race official” sign wasn’t coming up. No one I talked to saw anything fishy.
Suddenly the 12 horse was taken down for interference in the stretch and up went the 13, who went off at over 39/1.
Gulfstream showed the head on replay. There was definitely some swerving in the stretch by the winner, but only a little. In fact, the whole field was all over the place coming for home. After all, these are maiden claimers. I doubt there is a stakes-winner in the bunch.
Almost no one I talked to, listened to on television or heard from on Twitter felt the disqualification was justified. Naturally, the conspiracy theorists were all over this like ants on spilt sugar.
The multiple tickets with the official winner paid $36,659. There was no consolation for having five winners. I’m sure there was no consoling Mr. One-ticket at that point, either. He went from winning slightly over $1.3 million to going home empty. He might have gotten stuck with a pretty big bar tab, too.
No one has stepped forward publicly yet, but since the Rainbow 6 is such a sucker bet, it’s not likely the person holding the non-winning ticket is a wiseguy.
Chances are almost nil the bettor will ever be in a position anywhere near that again. I would hate to think of what I would do if I were in his place. It’s not really a joke to think someone could become suicidal or homicidal. I seriously hope that wasn’t the case.
We’ve all had a big four-teamer snatched from us by a meaningless three pointer at the buzzer, or lost a parlay card with a late backdoor cover. Having a ref take it away from you when you think you’ve won makes it that much worse. I have to say, though, I’ve never heard of one that meant this much money.
So the next time you blow that heartbreaker, think of the poor guy who had $1.3 million in his pocket before some Gulfstream racing steward robbed him out of the score of a lifetime. Because that, my friends, is the worst bad beat of all time.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].