Bad Beats — Haunted by A Horse Named Drosselmeyer

Written by: John Kearns (@jkearns33168)

Every horse player has one and we never forget their name. The one horse that continually knocks us out of the multi-race wagers time and time again.

It’s a horse that you always think their last race was a fluke or they aren’t as good as they truly are. In 2012, Little Mike was the horse that knocked a lot of players out of the Derby Day Pick-4 and then again on Breeders Cup Day. As bad as Little Mike was for me, he will never approach the horse that knocked me out of two huge paydays, Drosselmeyer.

Belmont Day 2010 was a day in which I had a higher bankroll than normal because I was coming off a nice Derby Day. Mona de Momma, Atta Boy Roy, General Quarters and Super Saver were the four horses that made up the Derby Day Pick-4 and, at the time, the biggest payday of my gambling career. I thought that the Belmont Day Pick-4 was challenging and with Gio Ponti making his first start back from Dubai, I thought he was vulnerable, which would add value to the sequence.

So, I put together my tickets, spreading in the middle two legs and keeping it simple in the True North and the Belmont. Bribon proved to love the Belmont surface and won fairly easily at 3-1 and now I was 8x6x3 in the last three legs. In leg 2, I got Champagne d’Oro to take them wire to wire at 39-1 in the Acorn and I could start to feel my heart beating a little faster. Now, for leg 3 the national TV coverage begins and I’m waiting for ABC to show the Manhattan.

I realized at post time that ABC wasn’t going to show the race so I go to my ADW account but the service is extremely slow. So, I missed the entire race, only to find out that Winchester pulled off the upset at 21-1 and I’m now alive to Fly Down, First Dude and Ice Box for a very nice payday. I don’t remember what the exact payouts were but Fly Down & First Dude were right around $20,000.  I looked over the race a few more times looking for someone who might be able to beat me. Game on Dude, I thought? Or maybe Uptowncharlybrown coming into Kieran McLaughlin’s barn for the first time?  I made some small bets on those two horses just in case. Not once did Drosselmeyer cross my mind as a potential winner. Fly Down had just beaten him by 6 lengths in the Dwyer and his races in Louisiana were not that impressive.

The race goes off and, as expected, First Dude gets the lead and has it all the way into the stretch and was holding on gamely. Ice Box just didn’t fire and Fly Down was in position to make a run but there was Drosselemeyer getting by First Dude in the final furlong and holding off a last ditch run by Fly Down. Two of my horses finished second and third behind a horse I never thought had a shot. My dreams of hitting two huge Pick-4’s during the Triple Crown series were gone. It was frustrating but I figured it was better this way than Drosselmeyer being a horse I originally had on my ticket only to throw him off last minute. I could live with this one.

Fast forward eleven months later to Belmont Park May 15, 2011. There was a $100k Pick 6 carryover going into the card and I was psyched to get started. I found my single without a problem in Race 8, where an Angel Penna horse looked unbeatable. Now, it was time to build my ticket around the single.

On the first go around, I came up with a ticket of 5x3x3x1x3x4 for a $1,080, which was about double over my budget. I went back and tried to make some cuts and came up with two cuts, one from leg 2 and one from leg 5. That got my ticket to a $480 play. The only issue was leg 5. My original ticket had Birdrun, Inherit the Gold and Drosselmeyer and my cut on the second go round was Drosselmeyer. I loved Birdrun in this spot and Inherit the Gold was running too well to leave him off.

Again, Drosselmeyer was just plodding along in his previous two starts and I tossed him. I think we all know where this is going. First leg I get a 5-1 home, then 1.5-1 in the second leg, 3-1 third leg and I get my single home in the fourth leg. As the race gets closer I just know what is going to happen and, at 2-1, there is really no way to hedge with Drosselmeyer winning.

The race goes off and as expected Birdrun gets the lead and sets reasonable fractions of 25.25/49.79/1:14.21, and I’m feeling pretty good. Then Drosselmeyer makes a move and the two of them start battling back and forth. Birdrun drops to second but then starts fighting back and looks like he might come back for the win, but Drosselmeyer holds him off and wins by a neck. To rub salt in my wounds, in the last leg I get the longest shot on my ticket home at 11-1 and the Pick 6 pays $12,616. I walk away with two consolation tickets of $95 each.  I was devastated that I let this horse beat me twice at times when the prizes were so big.

I could go on and tell you how Birdrun beat Drosselmeyer a month later at Belmont in the Brooklyn by over 3 lengths or how I used Dorsselmeyer in the Breeders Cup later that year but Court Vision had already ruined my tickets and it didn’t matter. Let’s just say

I’m happy he’s retired.

Drosselmeyer crosses the finish line first in the 2010 Belmont Stakes. Photo Courtesy: Gallery of Champions
Drosselmeyer crosses the finish line first in the 2010 Belmont Stakes. Photo Courtesy: Gallery of Champions

We thank John for sharing his story! You can follow him on Twitter at @jkearns33168!

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