04/30/2009 11:00PM

Hollywood bettors snag entire pick-six pool

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Benoit & Associates
Liberian Freighter's victory in the Tiznow on April 25 helped set up a big pick six score.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - When they took a medium-sized swing at a big pick-six pool April 25 on California Gold Rush Day at Hollywood Park, Gary Young and his gambling associate had no preconceived notions.

"One thing you have to remember about the pick six is there are going to be a lot more near-misses than there are hits," Young said. "If you don't watch it, it will cost you your sanity."

Young would know. A clocker, bloodstock adviser, and horseplayer, he has been playing the pick six in California for 25 years and said the bet "defined my gambling career."

Still, Young and his associate, who preferred to remain nameless, never had a score quite like last weekend's scoop.

California Gold Rush Day at Hollywood included six stakes for California-breds. The track guaranteed the pick-six pool at $500,000, though Hollywood had to make up the difference when the pool fell short of the guarantee by $13,319. It was big enough to take a $720 swing, although, Young said, "usually we play smaller."

The ticket had two singles, and a problematic first leg. Race 5 was an allowance sprint with 12 Cal-bred filly-mare sprinters.

"Sometimes in multi-race wagers, the three best words you can say is 'I don't know,' " Young said. "We did not know in that race, so we 'alled' it."

Good move. They used all 12 runners and caught $73.80 bomber Rule the Storm.

Now it got tough. The singles were in consecutive races - the $200,000 Melair for 3-year-old fillies (race 6) and the $150,000 Tiznow Stakes (race 7) for older sprinters.

Pretty Unusual was an improving longshot "in against a bunch of horses that wanted nothing to do with going a mile and a sixteenth," Young said. In her most recent workout, Young said, "she was coming off the ground at the wire." Pretty Unusual won the Melair at $20.

It was one single down, with one to go. Liberian Freighter was the choice of Young's colleague, and the horse never looked like a loser at $7.20 as the mild favorite.

"He was the 'now' horse, and when he won, that's when you knew . . . wow, if this thing falls right, it could be okay," Young said.

The ticket was strong the rest of the way, with five, two, and three horses each leg.

Unusual Smoke ($14.40) won race 8, the $150,000 Khaled. The two in race 9, the $250,000 Snow Chief, were Compari ($13.20) and Triumphant Flight. They ran one-two.

In the last leg, their ticket was the only live one remaining, to three horses. They were one-two-three finishers Grazen, favorite Raise the River, and M One Rifle.

For the only pick-six payoff, it did not matter that Grazen's odds ($26.60) were so much higher than the 8-5 Raise the River's. However, the upset created an interesting dynamic: It knocked many tickets out that were still live for consolation payoffs. And it gave the winning pick-six ticket an extra bonus.

The ticket by Young and his associate included the only 18 consolation payoffs at $4,957.20 each ($89,229.60). Along with the $277,604.40 main payoff, the total haul (before withholding) was $366,834.

A friend informed Young that a mythical $2 win parlay would have returned more than $1 million.

"Are you telling me we got short-changed $750,000?" he said.

No complaints. "I've had pieces of a couple hundred of these things, and it's the first time we ever took down the whole pool," Young said.