Why We Love This Game — Written by Ken Johansson

My Greatest Hit – A Bomb Named Betty’s Miss, by Ken Johansson


My Dad introduced me to horse racing at an early age. Hitting for $176 on my 13th birthday hooked me on the game. Later on, I would land over $16,000 on a Thursday night that ended with us getting kicked out of a hotel.

I’m sure we’ve all seen horses who we’ve taken notes on – when they stretch out or run on turf, we unload. I primarily bet harness so I actually followed a horse that raced at Freehold, in NJ, named Betty’s Miss. She was trained and driven by Jody Stafford, who was not the greatest driver I’ve ever seen, to say the least. I told my Dad that if they ever brought her to the Meadowlands (Freehold is a half-mile track, Meadowlands is a mile) she would win for fun.

Finally, one Thursday I got to the bakery (my father’s shop, which I worked at) and my Dad said to me, “guess who’s running tonight at the Meadowlands?” I almost jumped out of my skin. Within seconds of just looking at the entries I told my Dad,  “Betty’s Miss – Dumpling Almahurst, cold exacta.” My Dad said, “but they’re 20-1 and 12-1 morning line.” All I could say was, “great!!!” My Dad didn’t have the faith I did and handed me $84. He asked me to bet $20 across and we would split a $2 exacta box on those two along with every other horse in the race. That would be eight separate three-horse boxes.

I had already rented a hotel room that my buddies and I were going to drink and play poker in. Mind you, I was still 20 at the time. So, I headed down to the Meadowlands after I closed up shop at 6 pm. I took my pay from the till, along with my Dads $84, and drove to the Big M. When I got there I headed right to the window and started rattling off my bets. By the time I was done I had $60 WPS on Betty and a $60 exacta box on Betty and Dumpling. After telling a buddy of mine to put a few bucks on Betty and the exacta, I headed off to the hotel.

I had never bet that much on a horse and I wasn’t even there to watch. As the night wore on, I paused the game to call the “Stretch Call” hotline. It was the best .99 cent a minute phone call I ever made. They only called two names in the stretch and it was music to my ears. Betty’s Miss won and paid $60.60 to win $30 to place and $10 to show. That was $1000 for each $20 WPS ticket. I had three and Dad had one. The exacta returned $397.80 as Dumpling Almahurst went off at 2-1 off a 12-1 ML. This was in 1990 and they didn’t offer trifecta in every race. Between my WPS and exactas, I won more than $16,000. My Dad won a shade under $2,600.

After I hung up, the poker gave way to shouting and celebrating that resulted in numerous noise complaints. Upon receiving the third warning, we were told to leave. We all crashed at my house, filing in at about 3:30 am. My Mom was getting ready for work and asked why we were there and not the hotel. She nearly fainted when I told her how much I won.

It was a night that still brings a smile to my face. I have not come close to duplicating that night or even firing on another horse like that. It was just one of those nights where the stars aligned and things went perfectly. The biggest score of my life on an obscure trainer/driver. Wherever you are Jody Stafford, this big guy says “Thanks!”

We thank Ken  for sharing his story! You can follow him on Twitter at @Vegasviking69.

If you’d like to share your awesome race story on “Why We Love This Game,” just send a brief description of your special moment or item (along with a photo, if possible) to info@DanonymousRacing.com. 

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