The sports betting community in New Jersey and across the nation witnessed one of its most memorable — and possibly oddest — moments on May 4 with a controversial finish to the Kentucky Derby.
Chances are, you watched the madness unfold yourself; TV ratings for NBC’s broadcast reportedly were the highest for the Derby since 1990. As for gambling statistics, a new record was set with a total of $165.5 million wagered on the 145th edition of the “Run for the Roses.”
In case you somehow missed what turned into a historic event for other, more bizarre reasons, here’s a quick slideshow recap.
Apparent winner Maximum Security, the favored horse in the highly-anticipated first leg of the Triple Crown, became the first horse ever to be disqualified for an in-race infraction. The stewards ruled that he veered out of his lane and obstructed the path of other horses during the race.
When that happened, the gamblers who bet on longshot Country House (65-1 odds) cashed in.
As you might imagine, this conclusion made for some tense moments at Churchill Downs and sportsbook outlets everywhere as people who thought they’d placed a winning bet quickly experienced a reversal of fortune.
Maximum Security drew nearly $9 million in bets, $6 million more than Country House, which means bettors lost exactly that much in potential winnings. When Country House was awarded the victory, it resulted in the second-largest win payout in Kentucky Derby History ($132.40 return on a $2 bet).
There were a few outstanding stories of improbable luck that came out in the media afterward; most notably, a man at The Mirage in Las Vegas who bet $8 on Country House and won $178,000 when his horse was ruled the victor — not a bad day at the races!
What does this mean going forward?
Country House has already withdrawn from the upcoming Preakness Stakes, so he won’t be going for the coveted Triple Crown. However, his amazing journey at the Derby will have ripple effects in the world of gambling.
First and foremost, the speculation is that more people will want to bet on the Preakness, scheduled for May 18, because the wildly improbable Derby finish creates hope that anything can happen. Betting on horse racing is such an inexact science that believing a longshot candidate is capable of paying off in a big way might spur more people to lay down their money.
Second, for those who lost money in such a shocking turn of events at the Derby, it can be tempting to try to “chase” or recover those losses by betting big on the Preakness. This is a particularly precarious spot for folks who struggle with a gambling problem.
Gambling, like horse racing, can be an emotional roller coaster, and if you need help maintaining healthy sports betting practices in Atlantic City or anywhere in New Jersey, CCGNJ is always available as a resource and support system. Please feel free to call our 24-hour confidential helpline at any time.