The Kentucky Derby is arguably the biggest horse race in the American racing calendar, comparable in popularity and renown to the Grand National over here, although it is a flat race rather than a jumps race.
Perhaps that is why Jim ‘Mattress Mack’ McIngvale – who is better known for betting on baseball and American football – has decided to have a punt on the race and tie it in with a promotion at his furniture store for 3 years in a row now.
The promotion for his customers states that if the favourite wins the race, any customer who has spent $3,000 or more at his store gets their money back and keeps their products; if it loses, they have simply bought their furniture as normal.
Either way, McIngvale wins – he’s famous for this sort of thing.
The reason Mack waits until the last minute to place this bet, is because the promotion states his customers get their money back if the favourite wins, not the horse he bets on.
So he has to bet enough money on the right horse to turn that horse into the favourite in the first place, or he runs the risk of his horse losing and a different horse starting as the favourite and going on to win. In this situation he would win nothing but still have to give his customers free furniture, and that would sting!
When and interviewer asked how many times he had done this, he replied:
“This is the third year in a row. Haven’t won yet but they say the third times a charm”
It wasn’t going to play out the way he hoped, even though Mack was wearing his lucky jacket, with Secretariat themed lining. Very on trend!
Angel of Empire Loses Out to Mage
So 50 minutes before post time the bet is laid.
Despite saying he would bet $2 million earlier in the day, the eventual figure was $1.2 million, no doubt a calculation on his part as to how much he actually needed to bet to move the odds.
Angel of Empire was co-favourite with Tapit Trice at the time, both with odds of 9/4, but seconds after Mack’s bet was placed his horse’s odds were slashed to 4/1, making it the favourite for the race and satisfying the furniture store promotion.
The favourite and second favourite were both at the very back of the 18 strong field, but Angel of Empire started moving up on the inside just after the half way point, before crossing through the middle of the pack on the turn and battling his way down the outside while everyone else got stuck in the middle.
It was a great run by the colt but left a little too late, since Mage and Two Phils crossed the line in first and second, just as Angel of Empire was looking like he might have enough in him to pass them.
So a big loss for Mattress Mack, but not for his furniture store.