Texas Woman Wins $1.2 Million on $18 Kentucky Derby Bet

Justify Wins 2018 Kentucky Derby - Texan Win Pick 5 Bet

Justify was a 3-1 favorite, but the woman also picked Funny Duck as a 40-1 longshot.

An Austin, Texas woman won a $1.2 million payout from an $18 Pick 5 bet on the 144th Annual Kentucky Derby this past weekend. The woman, who asked not to be identified, placed her bet at Retama Park in Selma, Texas — an hour’s drive southwest of Austin.

To win the bet, the woman had to pick the winner of 5 races on the Kentucky Derby schedule on Saturday. Justify, the 3-to-1 favorite which won the Run for the Roses, was the surest bet of the five.

She also bet on Funny Duck, a 40-1 longshot in the Pat Day Mile, the 10th race of the day. The bettor’s other picks of the day were in the eight race on Limousine Liberal (4-1), the ninth race on Maraud (8-1), and the eleventh race on Yoshida (10-1).

“Unheard Of” Bet at Retama Park

Rachel Bagnetto, a Retama Park spokesperson, told ABC News of the the horse bettors’ feat, “To bet that little amount of money and win $1.2 million is unheard of. In fact, it’s the first time it’s happened at Retama.”

Bill Belcher, the general manager of Retama Park, posed for a picture with the unidentified woman. While winners have the right to stay anonymous, gaming organizers understand the advertisement value of publicizing a big win.

2018 Kentucky Derby Winner

The 2018 Kentucky Derby was a muddy track. Churchill Downs faced 2 inches of rain in the hours before the race. Only 15 minutes before Justify and 19 competitors left the starting gate, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the Louisville area.

Justify won $1.432 million for his ownership group for taking 1st place. The entire race had a purse of around $2 million. Bookmakers believe about $200 million in all was wagered on the Kentucky Derby this year.

Biggest Horse Betting Event

For instance, in 2016 a full $194 million was wagered on the 13-card race at the 142nd Annual Kentucky Derby. Of the turnover, about $23 million was wagered at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby tends to be the biggest betting event of the year in horse racing, though the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore and the Belmont Stakes in Belmont, New York also elicit major betting stakes.

In years when the same horse wins the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and has a chance to win the Triple Crown at Belmont Park, betting at the third leg of the Triple Crown can match the interest level of the Kentucky Derby. The Breeders Cup in November, which pits top horses from more than one year, also receives its fair share of betting action.

How a Pick 5 Bet Works

A Pick 5 bet is a type of parlay bet. When someone bets a parlay, they have to pick the winner in a series of horse races. Racing days have a schedule of races, with races made up of horses of various levels of accomplishments and experience levels. The last race of the day has the most prestigious or accomplished horses.

Horse bettors enjoy making parlay bets, because they have the hope of paying off big money with only a small bet made. A parlay which has 5 bets-in-one is next to impossible to predict, which is why an $18 bet can yield $1.2 million. For a racetrack to break even on such a parlay bet, someone would have to win no more than 1-in-66,667 Pick 5 bets. Thus, Rachel Bagnetto is being quite truthful when she says she’s never seen a Pick 5 bet pay off the way it did — because it is a once in a lifetime event.

Of course, that means that the vast bulk of parlay bets are losing propositions. Perfection is hard to achieve, especially in horse racing.