Why We Love This Game — Written by Jared Hines
Wednesday Night Fireworks
June 28, 2015
The date was July 9, 2014, and for once during the busy months of summer, I had the night off. No work, no golf, no nothing. I asked a couple friends if they wanted to hang out but no one was available.
I had about $100 I’d made in tips from the previous couple of nights and decided to head down to Canterbury Park. Josh Hanson (@Barbaro1420 on Twitter) had informed me that Northlands Park in Edmonton had a carryover on the pick 4, beginning in race number 4. He sent along the PP’s as well, and so I settled in at a table at Canterbury Park with my laptop, $100 and (at least for now) my dignity.
Races 1-3 drug on and I tried to win a little extra money for my pick 4. That didn’t happen. After race 2, Josh (who was at Northlands that night) waved to me from behind the winner’s circle. If you haven’t met Josh (and if he hasn’t blocked you on Twitter), you should; he is awesome. I texted him a few times before I started really digging into my ticket.
One thing I was nervous about was that Northlands Park pick 4 tickets were $1 and not $.50 like I was used to at Canterbury Park. After three races I had already lost a decent amount of my bankroll and was down to $42 on my voucher. Feeling discouraged, I decided to make my ticket $42 to try to give me the best chance of winning, but with $1 tickets, $42 doesn’t get you far. With the help of Josh and a couple more looks at the PP’s, I landed on this ticket:
In race 4 (the opening leg of the sequence), I was just looking for a price. I was already nervous for two singles in races 5 and 6, something I had never done before.
Race 4 was a $5000 Claiming Race at 6 1/2 Furlongs. Firefly Bay (4-1 ML) took off at 12-1 and beat the 4-5 favorite. Great start, no doubt, but still a long way to go.
Both horses for race 5 and 6 had jockey Rico Walcott aboard. In 2014, he won 33% of the time and was carrying a 32% win percentage into Wednesday’s card. I decided to take my chances.
Race 5, the horse was My Paramour in a maiden race for $7000. Race 6 was Count the Change, a 7-year-old 9/38 lifetime horse, for trainer Greg Tracy.
My Paramour was as impressive a horse I had seen in race 5, settling in third around the final turn before drawing to the rail and winning by four lengths at even money. Halfway there, still work to do though.
I knew that if Count the Change could take me home that I would have a great chance at winning with 6/10 horses in the last race. Still, a 7-year-old 9/38 lifetime horse scared me, but Walcott was so impressive with My Paramour that maybe we could get another winner with 9/5 ML Count the Change.
There was never a doubt. Count the Change got the lead 1/4 of the way through the race and won easily. On the third floor at a horse track in MN, a 22 year old was pumping his fist and cheering as his heart raced. There weren’t many people around me, as most of the other tracks were done for the night.
The 7th race would start at 10:18 PM Central Standard Time but it felt like 24 hours separated the 6th and 7th race before they finally loaded into the gate for the $14,800 6 furlong claiming race.
Now, like I said before, I had 6/10 horses but anyone who has watched a horse race knows that there is no such thing as a sure thing. Still, I started looking at the will pays and dreamt about how good that money would be for a broke college student. The race took off, and so did my heart beat. I stood out of my seat, and watched as all 10 horses broke from the gate.
At the top of the stretch, this is what I saw. I had the 2, 7 and 10, but didn’t have the 6 horse.
If you have watched the races with me, you know that I don’t yell at the horses as they fly down the home stretch. I take the race in as a whole before any emotion comes out of me. I usually stop breathing for about five seconds as the horses pass the finish line, and then depending on the outcome of the race I usually pump my fists, yell, or curse profanities at the TV.
The 7 horse never lost that lead at the top of the stretch and I checked my ticket about 10 times before I started cheering to a room full of empty tables and chairs and one employee who probably wanted me to leave so that he could go home as well.
After the race went official I went to hand him my ticket and he knew that I was a winner. I had won a couple pick 4’s before, but nothing as big as this one. That’s when the employee made my heart sank and told me that he couldn’t pay me. He explained that any wins over $599 had to be taxed and that I needed to have my social security card with me to enter into their system. I would have to come back the next day with my card before I could get paid.
I went home with an empty wallet and put my ticket in my backpack. I had to work the next morning in Minneapolis and wouldn’t be able to cash the ticket until the next day. As I walked out to my car, I saw fireworks across the street as Valleyfair Amusement Park was doing their nightly firework show. I always hated fireworks growing up, but as I got to my car I sat and watched the whole show, somehow thinking that they were celebrating my victory.
I exchange a few words with some guys on Twitter the next morning that saw the conversation between Josh and I and congratulated me. I headed to work, knowing that I could make it Canterbury Park and cash my ticket and get back North to my home in Rogers before rush hour traffic. I bet I checked my backpack 10 times during work to make sure I still had the ticket and that I had actually won. It was an incredible feeling.
When I finally arrived at Canterbury on Thursday afternoon, the empty tables and chairs were filled with guys who were playing tracks all over the country. I quietly handed my ticket to the woman behind the counter and gave her my social security card as she processed the information. Finally she counted out my money and congratulated me on my victory. I left her a little tip and walked right back out, not wanting to spend any money or give any of it back at the blackjack table.
It’s been about a year since this night took place. I’ve won a couple other pick 4’s, including one at Canterbury Park that almost beat this one (at $.50). To date, it is still my biggest hit and another example on how losing for a few races, a few days, a few weeks or even a few months shouldn’t discourage you from shying away from the basics. If you take the time to read the forms, and do your research, you can be successful at horse racing, and can have a blast in the process.
Thanks for taking the time to read I hope you enjoyed! Good luck to all of you in cashing huge tickets in the near future!
We thank Jared for sharing his story on DanonymousRacing.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jared_Hines27!