Justify pays $150,000 on $500 futures bet on 144th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs

Horse Racing

On a rainy Saturday at Churchill Downs, anyone who stayed dry — and maybe bet on Justify — at the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby could be considered a winner.

In sunny Las Vegas, one bettor won an even more impressive prize: $150,000 from a $500 futures bet on Justify to win the Derby at 300-1, placed all the way back in February at the Wynn.

While not nearly as big as the futures market for mainstream sports such as the NFL or NBA, a futures market does exist for the Kentucky Derby. In this case, one respected bettor was rewarded for his foresight and a call right to the top of the Wynn sportsbook.

“I got a call from a guy I know, a very respected horseman,” Johnny Avello, executive director of Wynn Las Vegas’ race and sportsbook, said on Friday’s VSiN radio broadcast. “He says to me, ‘Johnny, I got a horse I want to bet in the future book.’ I said, ‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you 250-1.’

“He says, ‘Come on, Johnny.’ I said, ‘I’ll give you 300-1.’ Now he’s sitting 300-1 on Justify at a big number.”

Part of the reason for the high odds? As Avello explained, Justify was one of two horses in Saturday’s 1¼-mile race who didn’t race at age 2 (the other was Magnum Moon). No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old. And there was no guarantee when the bet was made that Justify was going to enter the Derby.

Avello confirmed to ESPN that the ticket posted was legitimate.

There is a larger backstory surrounding the ticket, as respected professional bettor Bill Krackomberger wrote in a recent article for “Gaming Today.” Krackomberger confirmed to ESPN that his friend received a call with information about Justify four days before it broke maiden and this information was overheard, leading to the large futures ticket win.

Justify won Saturday’s Derby, paying $7.80, $6 and $4.40 (win/place/show).

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