The Wedding Gift

A young man named Matty D thought it would be great fun to buy his friend Micah a gag wedding gift. Micah was married the night before and invited about 100 wedding guests to join him and his bride Biz on the rooftop of the Taqueria near the Post for the races the day after.

Matty D’s gift to Micah was a $3 exacta box ticket on the numbers 8 and 6 in the fifth race.  He bought a $2 exacta box ticket on the same combination for himself, before leaving the track for the short drive back to New York City where they live. Number 8 went off at 70-1. Number 6 was 44-1. The horses sported the longest odds on the board.

Matty D presents winning wedding gift ticket to Micah on rooftop of Taqueria.
Photo by Vic Zast

Matty D wins with longshots routinely. Still, nobody expected anything to come out of his wagers. That said, at the same party, a woman named Kathie from Buffalo, N.Y. picked up a cool $784 by betting on two longshots and a couple named Jacob and Corey, who were visiting from Shanghai, China, won over $1,200 on another bet.  Many of Micah’s guests were at the track for the first time and they simply thought form didn’t matter as much as value when wagering.

Well, you know the end of the story. Matty D’s horses ran one-two and he went to visit the IRS man while Micah ordered up the bubbly. His ticket was worth $2,152 and the one he bought Micah paid $3,328. The horses, by name, were Lady Utopia and Thirty Minutes. The race was a $20,000 maiden claiming race, an increasingly popular race for a track that’s supposed to feature the country’s best horses. It was a day for high prices and Micah and Biz’s wedding guests bet them all.  “It only takes one race to get healthy in this game,” said the veteran handicapper Dick Downey.

The tip-off for what was to happen in the fifth should have been obvious to horseplayers in the fourth. Although the favorite Riolama won, South Shore at 14-1 finished second and Opalite at 12-1 finished third. A 9-1 horse won the sixth race. Apprentice jockey Wilmer Garcia, who won his first race at Saratoga last Thursday, won his second race aboard Majestic Raffy, 17-1, in the seventh. The trifecta paid $5,527. Then the Earth returned to its usual turn.

Currency Swap, last year’s grade II Hopeful Stakes winner trained by Saratoga Springs native Terri Pompay, won the grade II Amsterdam. It was the son of High Cotton’s fourth victory in five sprint tries and his third win at Saratoga. “He loves it here,” Pompay said, afterward. But, then, on the other hand, why shouldn’t he?
So do Matty D and Micah.

Vic Zast is the author of The History and Art of 25 Travers. He has been to the races at Saratoga for 47 straight summers.

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