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Mere yards from winning $571,000, a horse bettor suffers this unbelievable disaster

A bettor missed out on a $500,000-plus payoff when the jockey fell off his horse in the 10th race Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
A bettor missed out on a $500,000-plus payoff when the jockey fell off his horse in the 10th race Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. SCREENSHOT

Somewhere a horse-racing bettor should be nearly $600,000 richer. Instead, they suffered the disappointment of a lifetime.

It all played out Thursday afternoon at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., in the final 50 yards of the decisive race in the track’s Pick-6 sequence.

A replay of the race provides, depending on your perspective, a chuckle or a massive punch to the gut.

First, the setup.

The Pick-6 requires a bettor to pick six winners in a row, usually the last six races of the day. Gulfstream is one of the tracks that has adopted a “rainbow” policy: If more than one bettor hits all six, the prize pool is shared evenly but with some held over for the next day. That pool of money continues to build, supplemented by new cash each day, and is paid out in full only if there is one unique ticket – the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Even at the base price of 20 cents, it remains an exceptionally hard bet for any one person to hit just to gain a share. But given the number of bettors involved, and the elaborate combination of horses they play, the last race often arrives with no chance at the rainbow payoff. At the very least, it’s usually only one or two horses alive at huge odds to take down the whole pool.

But on Thursday, the rainbow was well within reach entering the 10th, the final race in the sequence. Somebody, somewhere, was alive to an 8-1 shot, Cryogenic, in the 1-mile turf race. The jackpot: $571,744.

For much of the race, it wasn’t looking particularly promising. The 9 horse was stuck midpack.

Then, coming out of the far turn, magic began to happen. Still just in eighth, Cryogenic with jockey Emisael Jaramillo aboard, suddenly launched a huge move. Track announcer Pete Aiello saw how the race was shaping up, noting “Cryogenic’s the one to recognize. He’s loaded but he’s got no place to go under Jaramillo.”

Just as the horses turned into the stretch, Cryogenic found an opening. Suddenly, he was in the clear and pulling away.

“Cryogenic is clear to the finish,” Aiello announced.

And then.

“It’s Cryogenic and Emisael Jara – millllllo,” Aiello said, abruptly drawing out the jockey’s last name as he watched in disbelief at the unthinkable unfolded ...

Aiello’s one-word, deadpan summation, shared by everyone watching live or the replay: “Wow.”

Of course, Twitter erupted. Some just agonized over the life-changing score that the anonymous bettor just missed out on.

Others jumped to the conspiracy theories.

And still others celebrated, the cold-hearted types they are, at the thought that since they weren’t alive, another crack at an even larger rainbow jackpot awaits Friday.

In a postscript, Jaramillo was taken to the hospital, with feeling in all extremities but complaining of chest pain. He was apparently stepped on by one of the trailing horses.

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