Mar 9th 2011 08:10 pm |
That’s right, a $2 win ticket on a filly named Wishing Ring in the sixth race at Latonia in Covington, Kentucky, on the 17th of June 1912, paid $1,185.50. By far the largest single mutuel winner in North American racing history. In the 1970s, when the American Racing Manual stopped printing the highest mutuel payouts on record, Wishing Ring’s win stood well above the second highest winner at odds of 419-1 which came at Agua Caliente in 1933.
On June 18th, the Daily Racing Form reported on the huge payout this way:
Local records for odds on winner under the mutuel form of wagering were shattered in the closing race at Latonia this afternoon when the backers of Wishing Ring received $1,885.50 for each $2 invested. The posting of the price caused intense excitement and the four holders of winning straight tickets were the objects of great interest. The lucky ones were mere tyros in racing and included a lady who backed Wishing Ring because of her well-sounding name.
“Bob” McMillan, the filly’s owner, was probably the most chagrined person at the course, for he neglected to have any sort of a wager on her. Previous to Wishing Ring’s victory, the record mutuel pay-off on a winner was a trifle over 400 to 1. The total amount wagered on Wishing Ring this afternoon was only $22, of which $8 was straight, $4 for place and $10 to show. The place pay-off of $644.50 for $2 also constitutes a record.
The following year, The Bourbon News in Paris, Kentucky, while reporting on the opening of the track in May 1913, had more to say about the lucky holders of the big mutuel tickets from the previous season:
The peculiar thing about the running of [Wishing Ring’s] race was that holders of these tickets knew nothing at all about the horses, but were just at the track to enjoy a day’s outing. No dope, no workouts, no handicapping, were used by these persons. They just picked out their horses and bet their two dollars on it. It is also a noteworthy fact that three out of the four successful ticket holders were visitors in Cincinnati. [Note: Latonia was about six miles south of Cincinnati].
Only one resisident of that city was lucky enough to pick the winner. One of the holders was a lady from Chicago who was visiting Cincinnati and was taken to the races by her host. Another was a man from Mt. Vernon, Ind., who came up to see what a horse race looked like, and the third out-of-town winner was a resident of Louisville, Ky.
The Bourbon News article went out of its way to promote the idea that a small fortune could be won with a small investment and a little luck, you can read it in full at the Library of Congress
SOURCES, NEWS, AND NOTES
“Record Odds in Mutuels,” Daily Racing Form, 18 June 1912
“Small Fortunes Won in Mutuels,” The Bourbon News, 22 May 1913
I am in Baltimore this week and made a detour through Laurel to go to the races and check out an exhibit at the Laurel Historical Society today. The museum has put together an historical exhibit about the Laurel race track – celebrating it’s one-hundredth year in 2011. The folks at the community-run museum have done a really nice job telling the story of their local track. I was especially interested in the memorabilia they gathered related to the D.C. International. If you are in the area, it’s worth a stop and its free (although they do take donations).
Thanks for reading and good luck!