10/30/2014 11:32AM

Trainer Murphy makes most of life-changing betting score

Tom Keyser
Dimension is trained by Conor Murphy, who won about $1.6 million on a pick five wager on steeplechase events in England several years ago and used the proceeds to launch his own stable.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Anyone who dreams of a life-changing journey to the races has an idol in Breeders’ Cup trainer Conor Murphy.

Murphy, who starts Dimension in Saturday’s $1 million BC Turf Sprint at Santa Anita, is proof that anything is possible in the world of race betting.

In late 2011, while working as an assistant for top English steeplechase trainer Nicky Henderson, Murphy devised an $85 future-book pick five on races run at the National Hunt festival at Cheltenham, England, in March 2012. On a 50-pound bet, Murphy selected five of the stable’s hopes to win major steeplechases or hurdle races – Sprinter Sacre, Simonsig, Bob’s Worth, Finian’s Rainbow, and Riverside Theatre.

Over a three-day span, all five won. Murphy took home more than one million pounds, or approximately $1.6 million. Their future-book prices were believed to have ranged from 8-1 to 14-1.

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“It’s every punter’s dream for that to come off,” Murphy said recently. “I was very lucky to be working for a great trainer like Nicky Henderson. There is no doubt it was very lucky.”

The bet, placed with an online English bookmaker, gave Murphy, 30, the resources to finance his dream – the development of a racing and training stable, Riverside Bloodstock, at Skylight Training Center in Louisville, Ky. Murphy had worked as an assistant trainer in the United States while in his early 20s and wanted to return to America.

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Murphy opened the stable in late 2012 and had his first winner at Beulah Park in February 2013. The 30-horse team consists of 18 yearlings being broken, and 2-year-olds being prepared for other trainers, as well as 12 Murphy-trained racehorses. The stable has had 8 wins from 64 starters through Oct. 25.

Murphy has a business partner in Justin Callan, who directs the yearling and 2-year-old prep operation. The trainer has an ownership stake in several of his 12 runners and has a few outside clients.

The Irish-born Murphy owns Dimension through Riverside Bloodstock, the purchase financed with a portion of his 2012 bet winnings. Trained in England by James Fanshawe, the gelding was eighth as the 9-2 favorite in the 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot in June 2012 and ended the English portion of his career with a win in a minor handicap at seven furlongs at York a month later.

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The race was foreshadowing for Dimension’s American career.

Dimension has run primarily in turf sprints, winning the Grade 2 Play the King Stakes at Woodbine in August 2013 and finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in September 2013. Last year, Dimension was fifth in the BC Turf Sprint, the trainer’s first starter in the race series.

In the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash last month, Dimension overcame a slow start with a wide rally to win the race over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf by a neck over the graded stakes winners Something Extra and Undrafted. The stakes win was one of Dimension’s finest performances, Murphy said.

“He did make the ground up very easily,” Murphy said. “This year, he’s come on. I won’t like to say he’s peaked, but I’d like to think he’s grown into himself. He’s showing more speed now. I think the last race was good because he overcame the slow start and beat two nice horses.”

Dimension will need a perfect trip to win the Turf Sprint, which is led by Reneesgotzip, who was second in the 2013 Turf Sprint, and No Nay Never, who has won stakes in England, France, and Kentucky in his five-race career.

“To be honest, it looks a hot renewal,” Murphy said. “He will need to step up from last year’s form, and he’ll need to run the best race of his career. I rather expect him to improve this year, and I feel he has.”

Murphy has booked English champion jockey Ryan Moore to ride Dimension. The horse and rider have a history. Moore was aboard Dimension for a win in a maiden race on the synthetic surface at Kempton Park in England in 2011.

“Hopefully, he’ll keep the 100 percent record,” Murphy said.

Murphy has dreams of a Breeders’ Cup win. He has already proven that a person can aim high in racing and succeed, even in the most unlikely of scenarios.