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Gambling on the Kentucky Derby

BANGOR I've engaged in a lot of sports-related endeavors over the years. I've played a lot of sports. I've watched a lot of sports. I've participated in March Madness brackets and fantasy football and even placed a bet or two at a sports book.

But I had never bet on the Kentucky Derby.

So in honor of this year's Run for the Roses, I thought it might be time to change that. We have a first-rate OTB (that's Off Track Betting for the uninitiated) facility here in town why not take advantage? So I did. My lovely wife and I took a trip down Main Street and paid a visit to Hollywood Casino; we strolled right in and prepared to place our bets.

Only it wasn't quite as easy as I thought it would be.

It's not just about handing over some money and picking the winner. Well, I mean it can be just about that. And I actually did some of that myself, placing a handful of $2 bets on some of the longest shots to win. That's why they call it gambling, right?

But I wanted to do something more. There are a huge number of different types of bets that you can make on a horse race. I won't even try to explain some of the more esoteric ones, but there are plenty that are easy to understand.

There's the exacta, also known as a perfecta. This is when you choose the first two finishers of a race in order. There's the quinella, which involves the top two finishers, but order doesn't matter. In the trifecta, you have to pick the top three finishers in order, while with the superfecta, you must choose the top four finishers.

These are known as 'straight' bets. You can also turn them into 'boxed' bets; by investing more money, you can bet on every possible combination of your top finishers rather than having to nail the exact order. It's more expensive, but it offers a lot more winning options.

You can probably already guess that I went with the straight superfecta. And since I'm writing this now, you can probably also guess that I did not in fact win.

My four bets to win? Golden Soul, Giant Finish, Frac Daddy and Vyjack Golden Soul gave me a good run, but ultimately fell just short. And as for my superfecta? I had Revolutionary finishing first, followed by Verrazano, then Orb and Goldencents in fourth place.

Not even close.

For those who missed it, the winning horse of last night's Kentucky Derby was Orb, who started at the 16th position. In second place was the aforementioned Golden Soul. Third place went to Revolutionary, while Normandy Invasion finished in fourth. 

According to the odds, a correct $1 superfecta bet would have paid out $28,542. 

So I'm clearly no expert, but I must admit that the Derby watching experience was greatly enhanced by the fact that I had a few dollars riding on the outcome. Sure, I wound up losing 10 bucks, but I more than got my money's worth. Besides, I think I've got this horse betting thing all figured out.

Only two weeks until the Preakness.

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