I guess my question, to reverse a page out of the poker players’ parents’ handbook, is, “But how much did they win?” That query comes in response to the news, reported by ESPN’s David Purdum, that the disqualification that led to a longshot winning the Kentucky Derby this past weekend cost bettors $9 million.
In the most famous horse race in the world, the favorite, Maximum Security, was the first horse to cross the finish line. At the conclusion of the race, a formal objection to the result was submitted, arguing that Maximum Security had illegally interfered with other horses during the race. I am not a racing guy, so I couldn’t tell you the exact rules, but I do know that while there will naturally be some contact between horses in a race, there is some contact and there are some moves that are not permitted for safety reasons. Officials took a look at the replay, agreed that Maximum Security did interfere, and awarded the Kentucky Derby title to Country House.
Betting closed before the race with Maximum Security a 9-2 favorite. According to ESPN (which got the information from TwinSpires.com), more than $6.2 million was bet on Maximum Security to win, with about $1.5 million on the horse to place (second) and $1.3 million to show (third). That’s about $9 million that bettors lost after their horse was the first to make it across the finish line. Had to be a heartbreaker for them.
TwinSpires reported that the largest bet on Maximum Security to win was $8,000, which would have netted $36,000.
As I said earlier, though, but how much did they win? The focus is on the bettors who lost $9 million, but on the flip side of that coin are the bettors who were elated to find out their tickets that read “Country House” were now winners. Country House was a 65-1 longshot to win the Kentucky Derby. The largest bet on it was $2,500, which paid a hefty $162,500.
The Westgate Superbook said the disqualification ruling was not good for business. The dollar amounts in play were nowhere near back breaking, as even though the Kentucky Derby is popular, it doesn’t come remotely close to something like the Super Bowl or the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The DQ “caused a mid-five-figure swing” at the sportsbook.
“[We] went from a good-sized win to a good-sized loss,” Westgate SuperBook sportsbook director John Murray told Purdum via text. “The SuperBook animal racing trade team is annoyed by the decision.”
All told, $165.5 million was wagered on the Kentucky Derby, a record for the event. Last year’s number was $149.9 million.
The owns of Maximum Security plan to file an appeal to try to reinstate their horse as the winner.