05/14/2009 12:00AM

Super winner wishes he had $2 ticket


When 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird pulled away from the field to win the 135th Kentucky Derby, the scene here in the Las Vegas race and sports books was just like it was probably everywhere else in this country: the yells and screams as the field entered the stretch - when everyone thought they had a shot to cash - were replaced by stunned silence with just a scattering of shrieks by those who played their lucky No. 8 or otherwise landed on the unlikely upsetter.

Here in Vegas, there were also cheers from behind the betting counters as Derby future-book operators got the longshot they needed to erase the liability they faced on a number of the top contenders.

John Avello, Wynn Las Vegas director of race and sports, said he had just 10 tickets that were sold on Mine That Bird, mostly for odds of 150-1 last fall when the eventual Canadian 2-year-old champion was going to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, in which he finished 12th and last. Avello said there was one ticket for $300, now worth $45,000, but that and the others were swallowed up by all the money on the hundreds of other 3-year-olds that were available in his future book since last fall.

Avello also reported that not a single ticket was sold on Mine That Bird's 400-1 odds to win the Triple Crown (Avello posted individual Triple Crown on all those in the Derby field), so his book sent all those bets to the bank as well.

It wasn't a surprise that the lines to cash tickets after the race were very short, but most of those in line were very happy with the payoffs of $103.20 to win on Mine That Bird and $2,074.80 for the $2 exacta and $41,500.60 for the $2 trifecta. I was watching the race in the grand ballroom at the South Point, where they started cashing tickets before asking big winners to go to the race book proper to cash their signers and fill out the requisite paperwork for Uncle Sam.

The biggest payoff from Derby 135 was the $1 superfecta, worth $278,503.20. You had to go to the other far end of town, at the Santa Fe Station on the northwest side, to find the one and only superfecta ticket cashed in the state of Nevada.

Phil, who only consented to be interviewed if his last name wouldn't be used because "I don't want my full name to come up on a Google search as having won all this money," walked into the Santa Fe on Derby Day, one of only three days a year he bets the horses, with the other two being the Preakness and Belmont. The 46-year-old car salesman boxed the 2, 5, 7, 8, and 16 and went to play in the poker room. He returned to the race book to see the race on the big screen and saw Mine That Bird, the No. 8, pull away from the field with the No. 16 Pioneerof the Nile, No. 2 Musket Man, and No. 7 Papa Clem battling for second, but seven lengths clear of the rest of the field.

"I knew I hit it, but I had no idea what it would pay," said Phil, who knew enough that he wanted the longer-priced Musket Man to win the photo for second. That didn't happen, but he was still thrilled to see the payoff, though it left him with a sense of regret.

"I went there with $220," Phil said. "When I asked for the $2 superfecta box, it came up as $240 and I was $20 short, so I just had them make it a $1 box otherwise I would have won half a million."

So how did he come up with the horses for his big payday?

"I lived in Chicago and a friend of mine and I used to play the 2-5-8, and one time we went to a dog track in Wisconsin and hit a $1,200 trifecta for $6," Phil said. "So I've been playing it ever since. We had a Derby pool at work where you put in $10 and pick a horse, and I drew the 7 and 16, so I just added those to my box."

The big winner said he's setting up college funds for his two grade-school children and taking the family on a nice summer vacation, but isn't quitting his job, especially after paying $69,000 in taxes. He also said he doesn't plan to bet the ponies except for the Triple Crown races. When interviewed on Wednesday night, he hadn't decided what horses he was going to use in his five- or maybe now a six-horse superfecta box in the Preakness, but this reporter kindly pointed out that Derby winner Mine That Bird was the No. 2, with the No. 5 being Friesen Fire and No. 8 General Quarters.

Odds stacked against Triple Crown

Lucky's was the first race book in Vegas to post odds on whether Mine That Bird will sweep of the Triple Crown. It opened the "no" at -2,000 (risk $20 for every $1 you want to profit) and the Lucky's marketing director reported that it took a five-figure bet right away and adjusted the odds to -2,700 with +1,500 (win $15 for every $1 wagered, or odds of 15-1) that he would win the Preakness and then the Belmont. With the news that Rachel Alexandra was entering the fray, the line at Lucky's increased to -3,500/+2,000 as of Wednesday night. At the Wynn Las Vegas, they put up that prop later and have held the line at -2,500 on the "no" with +1,500 on the "yes." Head-to-head matchups at both Wynn and Lucky's were expected to be available by Friday.

* Results of interesting Derby prop bets available in Las Vegas:

Avello said he lost some on the time prop. It was set at 2:01.60 with the over set at -115, and more money came in on the over, pushing it to -200 by race time. Mine That Bird won in 2:02.66, not bad on a sloppy track but still over the total. The saddlecloth number of Mine That Bird made the "even" the winner of the odd/even prop, which had odd as the heavy favorite after the post-position draw at -160, but then when No. 13 I Want Revenge was scratched, Avello adjusted it to even -130/odd +110. The over/under win mutuel of $18.50 clearly went over. That prop had opened with the over at -115, but with the conventional wisdom that the top four contenders (I Want Revenge, Friesen Fire, Pioneerof the Nile, and Dunkirk) had the best collective chance to win, the under was bet to -210. Avello said that even after I Want Revenge was scratched that people were still betting the under. At Lucky's, they had a bet on who would finish last. No. 20 Flying Private, the D. Wayne Lukas trainee, pulled up the rear. He was the fifth choice to finish last at 9-1. Mine That Bird was co-third choice at 8-1.

* Total handle on Derby 135 in the state of Nevada was $4.6 million, according to Vinny Magliulo at Las Vegas Dissemination Company, the state's wagering hub. That was down nearly 10 percent from last year's $5.1 million, mostly attributable to the down economy but also to the scratch of I Want Revenge and a sloppy track.

* Tuley the Tout's Preakness selections: 1. Mine That Bird; 2. Pioneerof the Nile; 3. Musket Man; longshot: Big Drama.