The big hit: 'Chance' advice led to Breeders' Cup Pick 5 score

November 19, 2019 09:59am
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Nathan Hughes, a 30-year-old from Bentonville, Ark., has realized big scores on big racing days the last two years, including .50-cent Pick 4 and Pick 5 wagers that returned $18,171.65 and $45,997.70, respectively, on Nov. 1 -- Breeders’ Cup Friday. Hughes actually almost skipped the sequences altogether, as he thought about opting for some win bets in two of the five Breeders’ Cup races on Future Stars Friday. He “really liked” British Idiom, the eventual Juvenile Fillies winner, and planned to play trainer Wesley Ward’s contenders in the Juvenile Turf Sprint. “But I thought I’d just go two deep in the 2-year old turf race and see if I can build something around it,” Highes said.
Four Wheel Drive, from Ward’s barn, won the first leg of the sequence, the Juvenile Turf Sprint, as a 1.5-1 favorite. “As soon as I got the first leg of the Pick 5 home, I played that ridiculous Pick 4,” Hughes said. “I played a .50-cent Pick 4 for $500. I thought my Pick 5 ticket had a lot of coverage, and I felt confident about British Idiom. I pretty much hedged the Pick 5 with that Pick 4.”
Hughes not only took his stand in the Pick 5 by going “skinny” with the two Ward horses and singling British Idiom. But he also took a stand when avoiding two well-backed Bob Baffert horses in the sequence, Bast in the Juvenile Fillies and Eight Rings in the Juvenile. “I’m, like, ‘Good Lord, am I crazy?’” Hughes said. “I’m tossing both Bafferts at Santa Anita. Pretty much my thought process was that if I toss the Bafferts, at least I have some other prices in here, so where if something weird happens this thing could pay. I pretty much took a swing.” The second race of the Pick 5 sequence and the first leg of the Pick 4 ended with Structor capturing the Juvenile Turf at 5.3-to-1. Hughes was alive on both tickets. In the next leg, he had British Idiom singled in the Pick 5. She won the Juvenile Fillies with added coverage on Hughes’ Pick 4 ticket. Hughes sought advice from friends before making these Breeders’ Cup multi-race wagers. That included a few text messages with Chance Moquett, son of trainer Ron Moquett, who sent out Whitmore in the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Hughes and Moquett discussed the fact that while trainer Graham Motion had won Breeders’ Cup races, he hadn’t yet saddled a winning 2-year-old. Hughes wasn’t completely sold on Motion’s horse, Sharing in the Juvenile Fillies Turf. But he wasn’t about to let a tidbit of information from Moquett go to waste. Hughes ultimately used Sharing, who won the race by a length and a quarter over race favorite Daahyeh. Sharing went off at 13.8-to-1, leaving Hughes alive to the payoff leg in both pools. As for the Juvenile, “When we were texting that morning about the Pick 5 sequence, I asked (Moquett) what he thought about Dennis’ Moment and I told him I didn’t know if I liked him from the rail,” Hughes said, “and he told me he liked the No. 7.” That was Anneau d’Or, a once-raced colt who debuted on turf at Golden Gate Fields. “I told Chance, ‘I like Storm the Court,’” Hughes said. “I thought if he gets the lead he might be a little dangerous.” While Hughes was completely against Eight Rings, he was alive to the favorite, Dennis’ Moment, as well as third choice Scabbard. Either one of those horses winning would have provided him with a nice payout. But a win one of those those longshots made for the big hit horseplayers dream about. After Dennis’ Moment stumbled out of the gate, Storm the Court delivered for Hughes following a stretch battle with Anneau d’Or. The winner was the second-highest price in the field. “The stars aligned and my racing luck came around. It was a fun day,” Hughes said. “I was really right about this -- and Storm the Court won at 45-1.” Hughes’ racing luck hadn’t been absent for too long, as he cashed a pair of big superfecta tickets on the 2018 Kentucky Derby. It required going $1,512 deep to do it, but he proved there’s plenty to be made on the Derby, even in an era when favorites are winning often. “I was huge on Justify. I thought he was the best horse. I thought he’d get the trip. I thought he’d win, and it just kind of worked out,” Hughes said. He played four tickets at $378 each, with the superfecta minimum $1 on the big day at Churchill Downs. “I played Justify on top of all four of them and I keyed three horses,” Hughes said. “I keyed Good Magic, Audible and Bolt d’Oro. So I needed Justify to win and I needed one of those three horses to be second, third or fourth. I had pretty much all in the last leg.” Justify, Good Magic and Audible each finished in the money, of course, and it was 85-1 Instilled Regard next in the running order who made the payout a staggering $19,618.20. Instilled Regard beat second choice My Boy Jack to the wire by a length. Had the order been reversed, Hughes would have still cashed two  tickets, but it wouldn’t have meant totalling near $39,236.40 he received.
“We were sitting on the third floor right by the finish line and we were just soaked,” Hughes said. “It was pouring rain. But I was happy to be soaked that day.”


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