The Racing Gods Shined Upon Dave Weaver!

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Even though I’ve lost 767 days in a row, it’s always the memory of the big score that keeps me coming back for more of this wonderful game. I still recall that magical moment -- the last time I cashed a winning ticket. It was a crisp October weekend in 2006. My friends and I had taken a road trip up the 5 Freeway headed to Lake Tahoe. We decided to make a stop on the way and visit some harness racing friends at Cal Expo. It was going to be a long weekend and I had brought plenty of money to make sure I would end up being able to play when we got to Lake Tahoe. But that whole rationing thing and saving thing has never really been one of my strong points. Needless to say, after I had purchased a thousand dollars worth of red and white confetti at an assortment of tracks that were being simulcast that afternoon at Cal Expo, I found myself down to my last $90. Three days of casino-hopping bliss had turned into a potential 72-hour nap inside a hotel room, sulking in the reality of another blown bankroll…. Until…. the racing Gods shined upon Dave Weaver! The card was winding down at Santa Anita and all of my potential pick three’s or pick four’s were already dead. But I had looked at this race over and over again and had a tremendous feeling that the two favorites were very beatable. It was a 6 ½-furlong down-the-hill turf race with a full field of 12 runners. The favorites were somewhere in the 8/5 to 2/1 range, leaving the rest of the field at 5/1 or higher. There were even a few 20/1 – 50/1 type horses that I liked in the race. With post time approaching, I had convinced myself that the 10-cent superfecta was the right play. First, because I could get good coverage and second -- by beating both favorites -- I knew it could pay enough to get me even and send me on my way to Tahoe with a smile. I invested $84 and boxed 7 horses, none of which were the favorites. So besides the two favorites, I had to find three other horses that I didn’t prefer. This left me with my seven remaining horses, whose odds ranged from 5/1 to 50/1. Shortly out of the gate one of the favorites engaged in a speed duel, which I had hoped would happen. He began to tire and the other favorite wasn’t doing very well towards the back of the pack. At this point I knew I had a very good chance of hitting the superfecta and I began to focus in on all the horses that were beginning to line up down the stretch. In the excitement, I had no idea which horses were the longshots and which were the shorter-priced horses of my seven possibilities. I was just trying to root my horses home in the top four positions. When they crossed the wire, I had hit the superfecta. I would have done cartwheels even it had been the 5/1 over 6/1 over 8/1 over 10/1. But as I grabbed my program and began to realize which horses had finished in the top four my expectations of what it could pay began to swell. I looked up on the TV screen and without the race being official it was showing the top four finishers with their odds: 24/1, 20/1, 12/1 and 10/1. Of the seven horses I had, it came in the best possible way. And then it just comes down to waiting it out and guessing what it would pay. I was thinking worst case $2,000 for 10 cents. And there was no real way to put a cap on how much it could potentially pay. The official sign went up and the $1 superfecta payoff showed over $50,000! I headed over to the IRS window with a sense of relief and disbelief all at the same time. After taxes were withheld, I collected nearly $4,000 which I, of course, torched in Lake Tahoe. But at least I was able to enjoy the weekend with action galore, rather than enduring a 72-hour nap of misery.

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