Breeders’ Cup Best Score: Got Hot!
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder

In honor of this year’s Breeders’ Cup video series, 30 Scores in 30 Years, we’re sharing our Breeders’ Cup Best Scores to help you get in the mood to score your own this November. Big race days can mean big payouts, and we hope that your biggest and best score is yet to come!

In the spirit of going out with a bang, for our final Best Score we offer you the biggest, baddest Best Score we could find: None other than the Breeders’ Cup’s own Pete Rotondo! This is the story of how the man who brought you “#gethot” got HOT!

My Dad was a foreign exchange exec that retired a minute too early in 1997. He had plenty of clients from Europe that loved the ponies and when they were around, all we did was GET HOT, from hitting the almost-all-female pick 6 in 1993 at Saratoga to many a score around the World. But the best scores came in 1998 and 2000.

The 1998 Breeders’ Cup was my first working in the industry. I had just started at the NTRA (two week before the ’98 Cup) and I didn’t make the traveling squad, so I had to “rough it” with my Dad’s foreign exchange buddies. Instead of going to the Breeders’ Cup, we went to Atlantic City and rented out the penthouse suite for a day of pure action. We started winning from race 1 and never stopped. It was one of the days!

The “Greatest Comeback Since Lazarus” with Da Hoss: I’ll never forget when my Dad’s pal flipped me a $1000 chip to bet Da Hoss downstairs in the casino; that turned into $11,600 profit.


Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup

It all led up to the best horse race ever put together, the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic – with an amazing lineup of horses who had won Triple Crown races from multiple years to older superstars to the reigning Classic winner, Skip Away. In my opinion, it was the best race ever put together, anywhere … and we nailed it. I hit the superfecta ice cold (I think it came back $800 for every $2) and we hit the Pick 6!


Video courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup

If only my Italian brother from another mother, Frankie Dettori, could have kept SWAIN straight, our profits would have doubled. It was a day that horseplayers dream about!

2000 Breeders’ Cup

Same crew made the trip to Louisville for the 2000 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs. By this time, I had a little juice at the BC, so I put them in the high-rollers room at Churchill. (Looking back it wasn’t much of a high-rollers room, but no one was complaining).

I actually had to work at this BC so I couldn’t hang out for the day. At this point, all I had ever done was win for my Dad’s pals, so they listened intently to my handicapping, and before I went off to “work” for the day, we went through the card. I gave them all my picks and I went on my way.

The undercard race before the Breeders’ Cup races started was the beginning and end of the day. One of Dad’s pals, THE DUDE as he was affectionately known, was a gambler but he wasn’t a horseplayer like the rest of them. The Dude lost $25k in a riverboat casino the evening before—he just loved action, and the race before the Breeders’ Cup he bet a $100 trifecta box on my top 3 picks. Yes, one bet, one $100 tri box on three horses.

After making his bet, he went to the buffet line while everyone else went to watch the races (again, figuring better eat now to get it out of the way before the REAL races began). The race is over. My dad remembered what The Dude had done, but the Dude, not having a clue about betting on horses, didn’t realize what a box truly meant so he believed he had lost. In fact, he didn’t even know the results until my Dad came screaming over to him, “THEY’RE GOING TO NAME THE TRACK AFTER YOU!”

Long story short: my top 3 picks (10-1, 6-1 and 80-1) came in and he won $268,000 on that trifecta! I came running up because I had it for a $1 (he hurt my PRICE!) and was hoping someone had bet it — obviously, somebody had! Little did I know that the fun had just begun. Remember, these guys are PLAYERS and they trade millions of dollars for a living, so they operate on different plane as the rest of us.

I watched them discussing what they should tip me for giving him the winners. I heard $10k, $20k, $30k, $40k–obviously, I was mesmerized by the conversation. Next thing you know, they settled on $30k! And, what do you know — I had run my credit card bills from college to $30k, so Dad took the cash and sent it to American Express, Yes, back then they had a program called “Sign and Travel,” and that’s what I did from 1996-2000 — I was finally even!

What was your Breeders’ Cup Best Score? Share your bragging rights in the comments!

Watch this week’s E Train installment of 30 Scores in 30 Years

Want to get your game together to ensure you’re primed and ready to hit your own Breeders’ Cup Best Score?
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