The big hit: A scooped Pick 5 'validation' for a longtime bettor

The big hit: A scooped Pick 5 'validation' for a longtime bettor
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Horse Racing Nation is highlighting readers’ best betting days at the races -- how they chased the big score and cashed in -- with this weekly feature. Let us know about your big hit here.

The monetary reward of a big hit at the races? It's great, yes, but along with a life-changing score is the satisfaction for a bettor of watching a strategy successfully unfold.

Occasionally, it for a single player who "scoops" the pool, cashing the only winning ticket.

Greg Jacobson did just that for the everyday bettor, scooping the early Laurel Park Pick 5 on Nov. 18, 2018, with a score that paid out $18,339.45 on a $48 ticket.

“It’s not always the computer guys or the rebate guys that are hitting these things," said Jacobson, the only player to string together five straight winners to open that day's card. "Sometimes it’s a guy in his living room who was able to look at the sequence objectively and comprehensively and came up with a strategy that was able to cash for him.”

RELATED: Other bettors share their 'Big Hit' stories

A resident of Oceanport, N.J., Jacobson played from home that Sunday, assembling four Pick 5 tickets with a total investment of $104.

He was less than impressed when odds-on favorite Transom won the opener and paid $3. Trevor McCarthy was aboard Transom for trainer Andrew Simoff.

In the second race, McCarthy guided his next mount to a victory, too. This time, the Graham Motion-trained Amino was away at 12-1.
“He paid $26 to win so that made up for the 1-2 shot in the first race,” said Jacobson, who stayed alive with two of his four tickets through the second leg.

Jacobson had only two horses in Race 3 on his live tickets -- the 2-1 co-favorites -- and More Than Treasure delivered with a gate-to-wire victory under Adrian Flores for trainer Claudio Gonzalez.

It was all starting to come together.


With two races left, Jacobson was two deep on one ticket and singled on the other in the fourth leg.

Citi Party appeared on both, with Jacobson liking the maiden claimer because the filly was bred, owned, and trained by Mary Eppler with Jorge Ruiz in the saddle.

“I find that to be a very positive sign, especially for known breeders,” said Jacobson. “If they are racing their own horses, I look to that as a positive.”

Citi Party was 6-1 as a first time starter, and the debut was nearly forgettable after a slow start.

"So you have that little groan and think that it’s happening again," Jacobson said, "but Ruiz got the horse into position, scraped the paint and opened up through the lane and won by four or five lengths."

Jacobson was alive twice to No. 7 Journeyonthemove in the last leg, but also to No. 9 Bioterp and No. 10 Gimme Kimmy once. He checked the will pays and found something he wasn’t anticipating. 

“I realized that I had that ticket on Gimme Kimmy and realized I had the whole pool, and I’m like, ‘Wow, that would be pretty cool,’ but you don’t expect that to happen,” Jacobson said.

“...The 20 minutes of anticipation, when I’m asking myself whether to hedge or not, whether I should tell anybody or not, it was something. You start thinking it really could happen."

At the start of the fifth race, Journeyonthemove broke sharply and took set pace, as Jacobson had expected. About a $7,000 payday would have awaited if the filly took them all the way. But Jacobson also saw a horse making a wide, sweeping move coming into the stretch.
“So really I was cashing the whole time," he said, "but Gimme Kimmy was a closer so that horse kind of kicked in and won by a length."
While many horseplayers that have experienced a “big hit” have tales of life-changing scores, Jacobson was more happy about the accomplishment.

“It was a validation of years of doing this," he said. "To me, the money was secondary. The bigger kick I got was the pool scooping."

That said, the windfall was put to good use. Just prior to his pool scoop, Jacobson's daughter marked her bat mitzvah.

“That ticket helped me pay for it all," he said. "It came in a timely manner. My mother had died about 20 years ago, and my sister said that was my mother up there guiding the horse home. I wouldn’t say it was life-changing, but it was definitely timely.” 

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