Why We Love This Game
Written by Sean Alvarez
August 18, 2015
The day was Sunday, November 16th, 2014 in Rancho Santa Fe, California. I got to work at 6:30am and opened up the golf shop to start the day. Like any other day, my job was to get all the golfers out on the golf course and make sure there weren’t any issues. This day, however, was a little different. On this day, there was a $599,000 Pick 6 carryover at Del Mar and there was talk of the pool reaching $3-million.
My first instinct was that I wanted to play but I didn’t have the kind of bankroll needed to play a ticket that I felt comfortable with in order to hit six races in a row. I did, however, know a few people through work that were willing to split the ticket. I spent the majority of the morning sending out texts to see who would be interested. I wound up with three partners who were willing to split a $400 ticket with me but didn’t want to make any picks and were just going to ride my ticket. Now, the pressure was on.
I left work and headed for the track and was 100% sure on my ticket and felt very confident that we would be alive into our single to close out the Pick 6. Here was what I landed on.
7 (Tough Sunday)
The golf course is about a mile east of Del Mar, so I headed over to the track for the first post feeling very confident. I pulled into the Sleep Train building and left my car at the valet with a skip in my step, excited for the upcoming card. I went up the stairs into the clubhouse section and took my seat into the Baffert’s box, opened my form and listened to Trevor Denman as he went over the day’s changes. Race by race, I put lines through the scratches and then, as Trevor got to the last race ,my heart sank into my stomach and I couldn’t catch my breath.
Through the entire six races of the Pick 6, I found one single, Tough Sunday, and now he was scratched. I scrambled through my form trying to figure out what I was going to do and quickly decided that I would single #8 Dr. Suer in the last. I mean, how often does Mike Smith jump on a maiden at Del Mar? The more I thought about it, it sounded more and more like a terrible idea. If the horse wasn’t good enough in my eyes to be on my ticket, why would I now single him? So, I tossed the 2 in the 4th leg, and the 1 in the 5th leg, which allowed me to double up on the last race, but now who would I go with?
I decided that there were two horses that I had to choose between in the last race: #10 Price of Glory and #3 Neveradoubt. I must have looked over the form for 45 minutes trying to figure out who it would be and then I decided it was going to be a hunch play. My first game playing varsity baseball in high school, I was put in left field, which I had never played before. In the first inning, a line drive was hit straight at me. I took a few steps forward, and then quickly retreated back, before diving in front of me, probably where I had originally been playing to make the catch. My head coach stepped out of the dugout and clapped his hands as he said, “hey, never a doubt, Alvarez.” So, I decided I was going to toss Price of Glory and play #3 Neveradoubt.
As soon as I put in the ticket, one of my co-workers got word that I was going to put in a group Pick 6 ticket and he wanted in. Now, I am not the kind of person who would say no to anyone who wants in so I told him he was in. At that point, I was happy to front him the money and if we hit, the more the merrier.
Here was my final ticket.
Now, at this point of the story, I would recommend that you look up the replays and watch it from there.
If you don’t want to watch the replays, I will do my best to describe what went through my mind in the next 3 hours.
The first race was a mile on the turf and the favorite #2 Tosheen flew out of the gate and by the clubhouse turn was ahead by some 8 or 9 lengths. My other horse, #1 Crux with Drayden Van Dyke came up to Edwin Maldonado as he entered the stretch and came within a length, as I stood up and cheered on Crux to lose by a nose. After the race, I met up with two of the other “investors” who were excited that we’d won. I quickly told them how bigger it would have been for us if Crux would have been one step quicker and stole the race at 7/2 instead of 8/5 we got with Tosheen.
In the second leg, #10 Smokey’s Legacy ran away from the field at 6/5 but my #9 Boss Cat at 5-1 finished second. So again it was tough for me to swallow as I felt we had a good price that finished in a solid second.
In the third leg, which I always thought was the toughest leg, #3 Echo Zulu got bet down from 5-1 on the morning line to 4-1 and turned the corner and ran away from the field. So now, I was starting to get excited. At this point, since the Baffert’s went to Opening Day and went back to LA for the fall season, I was still sitting right above the finish line in the Baffert’s box by myself, which at that point was exactly how I wanted it. I was way too nervous to talk to anyone.
In the fourth leg, I really thought the the #4 Flyin for a Livin had a big shot in this race at 7-1 going into the gate. But as soon as the gates opened #9 Fast Magoo came out of the gate as if there were gun powder and a spark forcing him out. Going into the turn, I knew the race was over. #2 Radiant Journey made it close at the end but I think Fernando Perez could have won by 10 lengths if he had wanted to.
The fifth leg was my big question mark. Five furlongs on the turf isn’t a race that Del Mar runs very often and I thought that a lot of the horses were unproven at the distance and on the turf. I really wanted to spread here but with the scratch of Tough Sunday, I had to go with my original picks. At this point in the card, my co-worker showed up with a few of his friends, as he lives really close to the track. That made me even more nervous but I tried to not express that to him as I made the picks for everyone and I wanted to make him feel confident. If you watch the replay, it was a blanket finish and, while earlier in the card I was rooting for bigger prices, at this point I was pounding my form while trying to get anyone on our ticket home first.
Going into the last race, we are alive to 3, 8 and #3 was literally just a hunch play. While I thought he was a logical choice, the only difference for me in #10 and #3 was the name. Before the race, my co-worker couldn’t have been be more excited but I knew better. I felt like chewing on my program. We weren’t alive to a giant score but a few thousand was big money for the both of us. All I kept thinking was the entire day came down to a hunch play for me and I had knots in my stomach.
For those that know me, I will play a Pick 5 and a Pick 4 at Del Mar but I will play Pick 3’s and Doubles within those and, if I am doing well, I will cash all kinds of tickets. I should have killed this day but all I could think about was betting other’s money and hoping we hit. As they entered the gate, Dr. Suer was 3/2, so I was feeling pretty good with Mike Smith aboard. As the gate opened, #10 Price of Glory got a flyer and going into the turn had a length and a half lead. As they entered the stretch, it was obvious to me that Price of Glory was going to put away Dr Suer. As I scrolled through the field, I saw that Neveradoubt was slowly closing on the leaders and gaining with every stride. At that point in the fall, the sun had set and there was a bright light on the finish line. I squinted my eyes to get a better view as Trevor announced that any one of the three horses could win. I pounded my form, screaming for Neveradoubt to get up in time. As I changed my view towards the finish line, I realized that we are going to hit the Pick 6. I went silent with 50 yards to go. WE DID IT!!!
The Pick 6 wound up paying $3,051 and while that wasn’t the best payout ever, it was one of the best nights in horse racing I have ever had. I think that was the longest time that I had ever spent at the track, and I never wanted to leave. That night I actually stood next to Mike Smith waiting for my car – that is how long I was there.
I hope you all followed along on the replays as I am sure it adds to the excitement. Hopefully, we can put together some more picks on the site to help you and we can get some exciting tickets home.
We thank Sean for sharing his story on DanonymousRacing.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @Smoothturn2.