On Fountain of Youth day, it was a horseplayer's dream day for Stuart G., 33, from Florida. It all came together.
He's one of the best horseplayers I know, but like every horseplayer, sometimes the right luck and timing add a lot. That day Stuart had it all. The right picks, the right bomb and the right wagers. It all worked out perfectly for a massive score hitting the $1 coast-to-coast Pick 5 five times plus a chunk of other big cashes for a day totaling over $95,000.
Fountain of Youth day started with a full field of turf sprinters, but Stuart was zeroed in on Smokin' Jay, who got a beautiful trip under Tyler Gafflione to take the opener at 9-1. He had a $25 Pick 3 going, and with a 4-1 and a 4-5 rounding that out, he ended up cashing for $3,875. The day was in motion.
Stuart's next thought was to tee up a big Pick 3 ending with Charge It, who would go off at 3-5 in the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2). He figured it was better to do that and skip to the late Pick 4 at Gulfstream instead of playing the Pick 5 with starting with Charge It. He was sitting on a sizeable Pick 3 score after Emmanuel (3-5) and Danse Macabre (12-1), but that ultimately went up in flames when Endorsed held off the big favorite Charge It.
While Charge It was a setback, Stuart was now laser-focused on Forte and the coast-to-coast Pick 5.
Why, I asked?
When the coast-to-coast Pick 5 started in January, I noticed how well it was paying and wrote about it here at Horse Racing Nation.
"The coast-to-coast Pick 5s are paying insanely well," Stuart said. "Almost all of them pay at least what they should, and most pay even better. The best payout we've seen was almost nine times the win parlay where a normal Pick 5 is about two times the win parlay. It's just a really great opportunity.
"You never see that at the big tracks. Those are pretty efficient. So if you're looking for upside as horseplayer, and I think everyone's always looking for upside, then you should really consider it."
Putting the ticket together focusing on Forte
"I liked Forte, that was my really special opinion," Stuart said jokingly. "A lot of people liked Forte, so just wanted to kind of funnel into that horse. From a coast-to coast-perspective. I think there were three Gulfstream legs. The first one was starting with a race that was pretty wide open. I think it was a spread leg for most people. My core ticket I used three horses. So and then I obviously got the big one. Dorth Vader paid I think it was $95."
Obviously it's super exciting to get a big bomb to start a Pick 5 sequence, but Stuart was comfortable with what he had going forward.
"I had pretty decent coverage. I was pretty confident in Forte. I was kind of looking at it as a mini Pick 3 after that. I had three horses in two of the legs, and then I had two in another one, so it wasn't like I needed something crazy to happen. I felt pretty good about the ticket that I had."
The $1 coast-to-coast Pick 5 races
Leg 1: Gulfstream, Davona Dale (G2), Dorth Vader (46-1), $95.40
Leg 2: Santa Anita, Buena Vista (G2), Quattroelle (3-1), $8.60
Leg 3: Gulfstream, Mac Diarmada (G2), Value Engineering (5-1), $13.40
Leg 4: Santa Anita, San Felipe (G2), Practical Move (4-1), $10.40.
Leg 5: Gulfstream, Fountain of Youth (G2), Forte (1-2), $3.00.
So coming into the Fountain of Youth, the will pay on Forte was $11,057 for $1. But Stuart had a $5 base ticket going with a $2 saver on Mage, which was paying over $33,000 for $1, so he actually had a bigger win on Mage.
Obviously, Forte did win, and Stuart hit the coast-to-coast Pick 5 for $55,285 plus a series of other bets, including the Gulfstream Pick 4 several times.
His total score for the day was more than $95,000.
Why the big $5 ticket?
Stuart normally weights his horizontal tickets in several different tiers. In this case he had only had two tiers. He had a $5 ticket to Forte and a lesser $2 base to Mage.
"That's a big part of my playing style is that I really think to play efficiently you need to weight the bases," he said. "You can weight horizontally with the number of horses you use and the coverage that you have, but you can't play efficiently unless you're weighting the stakes. That's what the computers do. I believe to be competitive you really have to do that. So I do weight everything that I play.
"So in that case, I actually didn't have time to model it out and weight it more. If I did, I certainly would have had Dorth Vader for less. So that's where I benefitted from playing the $5 ticket.
"But I think, generally as a horseplayer, you have to use all the tools that you have, and one of those is the leverage you use across your picks. You can't play things equally. Otherwise you're just leaving meat on the bone, which is there's not much to begin with."