The big hit: This bettor's 'lucky day' amounts to $70,000

December 10, 2019 11:54am
The big hit: This bettor's 'lucky day' amounts to $70,000
Photo: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park
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Sometimes in handicapping, ticket structure and luck combine to provide a huge payout. Sometimes, the big hit will take you from nothing to the approximately $70,000 won Sunday by Canterbury Park paddock host Brian Arrigoni, who rode a wave of incredible occurrences on a memorable afternoon.

“The irony in all of this is I opened my DRF Bets account to zero dollars on Sunday and put in $144 for the early Pick 5, which I was able to hit and it gave me some money and some confidence to go after it a little bit more in the late pick 5,” said 
Arrigoni, setting the stage for a massive day tackling Gulfstream Park's Clasico del Caribe card.

Arrigoni made $1,321.90 on that Pick 5, plus some consolation 4-of-5 payouts of $18.35, that set him up to take a shot with multi-race sequences on the back half of the program. By the time the last race went official, Arrigoni cashed tickets totaling $68,637.95, including a winning jackpot Rainbow 6 bet.

“The 20-cent Pick 6 wager isn’t something that I play very often, but I did decide to dive in because of the early Pick 5," Arrigoni said. "With there being no mandatory payout, it’s not a wager I would normally recommend."

Arrigoni went deep in the first leg, using six horses to kick off the Pick 6 sequence. And when he saw Shifty She cross the wire first, there was no real excitement, as she was the 3-1 top choice and the next race featured the most prohibitive favorite imaginable.

“It wasn’t what I was looking for," he said of the price, "but the second-place runner I didn’t have on my ticket, so I was thankful to just get past that leg.”

The next race, the Confraternidad del Caribe Stakes, featured odds-on favorite Kukulkan, the Mexican Triple Crown winner who won 15 of his first 16 races, with his only defeat in that span being the Pegasus World Cup  (G1) earlier this year at Gulfstream Park.

“I was hoping to beat Kukulkan on one of the tickets," Arrigoni said. "I used three choices on one of my Pick 5s. The No. 4 ran second at 22-1, and Kukulkan ended up winning, so it wasn’t the worst result knowing that I still had live tickets. But if that horse would have gotten beat I would have been in a good spot."

But he remained alive through two legs in the Pick 6, and both of his Pick 5 tickets were live, as he couldn’t quite stand to toss Kukulkan. At this point, Arrigoni continued covering, using more of those earlier winnings to bet four Pick 4 tickets leaning on a pair of riders to finish the Clasico del Caribe card strong.

“Paco Lopez and Irad Ortiz Jr. are two of the top jocks and always seem to have to have success on this day,” Arrigoni said.

Another moderately-priced horse crossed the wire first in Race 8, but Arrigoni was fine with the result as he had Genubi Asquifar with Lopez aboard on every one of his multi-race tickets.

Halfway home in the Pick 6, alive with two Pick 5 tickets and four pick 4 plays, Arrigoni was confident next in a horse keyed on three of his tickets, Letruska, in the Copa Invitacional del Caribe Stakes.

“I liked the horse," Arrigoni said. "She shipped in early. I think that stood out to me. Even though there was a layoff, the horse had been there since October. They didn’t feel the need to get a race in prior to this. They were working her out consistently. I think it was overlooked that she put in three bullet works ahead of this race.”

Letruska struck at under 2-1 in the win pool, and Arrigoni started to wonder if the sequence was going to “chalk out.” He was alive in all of his multi-race tickets, but had spent good money on them and his expected return at this point wasn’t particularly high.

That finally changed in the penultimate race on the card. 
Arrigoni settled in to watch Race 10 and experienced a feeling common to everyday horseplayers. He saw the longest shot on the board leading a race, and although he had No. 8 Sacamandu on all of his tickets, he didn’t expect the colt to win the race in gate-to-wire fashion under jockey Luis Contreras.

“When you have a 33-1 shot ahead by five and then six (lengths) at the top of the lane, you’re just waiting for the race to fall apart," Arrigoni said. "I kept waiting for the two horses that I didn’t have on my tickets to get there. In the first four legs (of the pick 6), we really didn’t have a longshot come in.

"It had been reasonably-priced horses all the way along with 9-2 being the highest price. And now I don’t have the top two favorites, which were heavily bet throughout. But in that race, the No. 8 got the lead right off the start, kicked clear, and didn’t look like a 33-1 shot when he won the race.”

It was at this point that Arrigoni knew that if he could cash one or two of his tickets after the final race of the day, he'd be paid handsomely. When he did get a chance to look at the will pays, he was pretty pleased to say the least.

“There was a big difference between what I was going to make if (No. 2 Gran Omero) won versus what I’d make if (No. 11 The Brother Slew) won. If the No. 11 wins, I’m hitting for $54,000 plus whatever the pick 6 pays. If the No. 2 had won, it would have been $7,257.

“At this point I had been just flying by the seat of my pants. At the end of the day, this is the Caribe Classic. I’d be lying if I said I had any real strong opinions. We were all guessing on Sunday and I was the luckiest guesser out there. While I was excited, I was tempering my expectations. I was not very confident."

Every ticket except for one Pick 4, with a single, included The Brother Slew, who had Lopez up and went off as the longest shot on the board.

“People either love or hate Paco Lopez," Arrigoni said. "He’s been my kryptonite multiple times. If I have him, he loses, and if I don’t have him he knocks me out. So I wasn’t about to be alive to the last leg and have Paco knock me out.”

What unfolded was almost surreal for Arrigoni. The Brother Slew, at 45-1 took the lead in mid-stretch and held on over Gran Omero. But a rider's objection and stewards inquiry delayed Arrigoni's celebration.

He either had a good score or, if the result held, a legendary one.

“It just brought me back to Kentucky Derby day with Maximum Security and that disqualification cost me plenty," Arrigoni said. "I thought, ‘Here we go again.'"

The result did stand, and 
Arrigoni hit every ticket except the Pick 4 that singled another horse. Of course, he said, “I thought it was a great call by the stewards."

The Pick 6 paid $11,806.40. Two Pick 5 tickets cashed with a base payout $16,782.10. One of the pick 5 tickets had eleven 4-of-5 consolation payouts of $47.60, while the other had 10 such instances. Arrigoni also had the Pick 4 three times at $7,219.25.

This, all after starting the day with $0 in his account.

“It just happened to be me. It was my lucky day," Arrigoni said. "What I did on Sunday is no different than what I do five days a week and have been doing for years and years and years -- and what many other people do every day. It just so happened it was my day.”


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