Gambler Whose Tickets Say He Won $609K On Kentucky Derby Exacta And Trifecta Bets Offered $35K By Sportsbook

horse racing feet on turf

iStockphoto / quentinjlang

By now everyone has heard about the Kentucky Derby drama from this year. Maximum Security crossed the finish line first only to be disqualified shortly thereafter and every other horse moved up a spot.

This caused temporary mayhem at sportsbooks across the nation where gamblers wagered a record $165.5 million which was up 10% from 2018’s record of $149.9 million. One gambler, Dr. Steve Friedlander, experienced confusion, elation, heartbreak, and (presumably) rage all within a short span.

According to the Action Network, Friedlander dropped by the Tamarack Junction sportsbook where he wagered $2,670 on Kentucky Derby bets. Now, follow closely here because you’ll want to understand his bets in order to grasp how boned he got.

He put $600 on the No. 8 horse Tacitus to either win, place or show and he did a $100 exacta box and a $40 trifecta box using the 8, 13, 16 and 20 horses. If any of those four finished first and second, he would win the exacta. If any of those four finished first second and third, he would cash in the trifecta.
When Maximum Security, the No. 7, crossed the finish line first, it appeared as though Friedlander had lost all his bets. But then Maximum Security was soon turned into a loser when the horse was disqualified and taken down.
The new order was: Country House (20), Code of Honor (13) and Tacitus (8). (via)

Country Horse was the biggest long shot to win the Kentucky Derby in 106 years and that horse left the gates at 65-to-1 to win it all. The $100 exacta bet would pay out $150,480 and the $40 trifecta bet would pay out an absolute fortune, $459,024 ($11,475.30 x 40 = $459,024). His $2,760 tickets were set to pay out $609,464 (or so he thought)

But as reported on the Action Network, he’s not being offered anywhere close to that sum of money.

When he went back to the Tamarack Junction sportsbook he told the cashier he’d just won a metric ass ton of money and that’s when he was told they don’t have that money. He took it to mean that they didn’t keep that kind of cash on hand but here’s where things went south in a hurry:

“I went up to the ticket writer who wrote my original ticket and I said, ‘I just won a lot of money — $600,000,’” Friedlander said. “And the guy says, ‘We don’t have that kind of cash here.’”
Friedlander took that to mean that the book didn’t have $600K on hand. But then another writer came over.
“There’s a cap on these,” he said.
The writer went to the front and showed Friedlander a placard. In fine print, it said that the maximum payout on an exacta would be 150-1, a trifecta would be 500-1.
On the desk, Friedlander only then saw the sign. The sportsbook, run by William Hill, didn’t have a pari-mutuel license and therefore wasn’t protected by a guaranteed percentage payout from the pool. (via Action Network)

He should’ve read the sign, right? Right?!? Well, it’s not that cut and dry.

There’s a placard inside of the sportsbook which says they don’t operate with a pari-mutuel license. Only 17 of William Hill’s 115 sportsbook locations in Nevada have these licenses so it’s not that uncommon. But the placard inside of this sportsbook is displayed on the right side of a table when a customer walks in and the betting caps are written on the back of the placard.

Could someone reasonably be expected to see and read something on the back of a placard? In this instance, the sportsbook obviously believes so whereas the gambler thinks otherwise.

Using the caps in place, the sportsbook is set to pay out $35,000 but he is able to appeal to the Nevada Gaming Control Board:

“The capping of booked race payouts has been industry standard for decades and allows race books to book without taking on unlimited liability, which no one would want to do,” Grodsky said in a statement. “The customer has the right to appeal to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, but we are confident that we have fully complied with the relevant gaming regulations and had prominent signage alerting customers to the payoff caps.”

Using the caps, William Hill is going to pay Friedlander $35,000.

Friedlander has filed a formal complaint with the control board, who met him last week at the Tamarack Junction sportsbook to observe the setup. The board has a month and a half to make a ruling. (via)

On the one hand, he’d be foolish not to appeal this (which he did). If the Board rules in his favor he stands to gain a ton of money. On the other hand, he’s protesting a common practice across sportsbooks throughout Nevada and one that’s not likely to change because he wasn’t aware of the policy.

As someone who wasn’t born in a casino and raised by a professional gambler, I definitely feel for him. When you step foot in a sportsbook it often feels like you need an advanced degree in order to place a bet because the cashier acts like you’re a burden on their life just by stepping up to the counter and there’s never a single person on hand to help you find the odds sheets you’re looking for. This has been my experience countless times in Las Vegas, I’m sure it’s different for everyone though.

But in this instance, all of this could’ve been avoided if there were some sort of rules in place like you have with Blackjack where the dealer gives the player advice. If the teller taking his bets would’ve told him ‘the max payout on these is X, Y, and Z’ he probably would’ve wagered different amounts or gone to another sportsbook but instead, they’re all embroiled in some weird battle now.

At the end of the day he’s still set to make $35,000 on $2,600 in bets, bets he ONLY won after a horse was disqualified in the craziest Kentucky Derby in recent memory, so he doesn’t have much to complain about. For more on this story, you can click here to visit the Action Network.