LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- So many people yearn for a life-changing experience, believing that one instant blessing by fate can change everything. If only my lotto numbers could come in just once . . .
Or maybe it could be my horse when I bet $100,000 of somebody else's money on him to win the Kentucky Derby.
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Joel Einhorn, a retired small-business owner from Fresh Meadows, Queens, had that opportunity Saturday after his name was picked last month to place the Derby Dream Bet in a contest sponsored by CNBC. Four hours before he announced his selection of Alpha at 6:12 p.m. on NBC's Derby telecast, Einhorn, 68, wouldn't release his horse at a news conference in the Churchill Downs press box. He did say he wasn't selecting Bodemeister or Union Rags.
Alpha finished 12th in the Derby at 19-1 odds.
Although he made the pick on his own, Einhorn said he reached out for advice to Dr. Steve Roman, an authority on pedigree analysis, and the noted author and handicapper Steve Davidowitz. "Based on breeding and the fact that he didn't run as a 2-year-old, Bodemeister was a throwout from the get-go,'' Einhorn said.
He made his first bet when he was 15 or 16 at Aqueduct, where he occasionally was ejected from the premises for betting while under age. "The Pinkertons were always coming after me,'' he said. "They were OK about it. They would give me back the $2 I paid to get in and escort me out.''
His all-time favorite horse is the Hall of Famer Kelso, who was Horse of the Year for five consecutive years (1960-64).
"Oh the great Kelso,'' Einhorn said. "I saw him win in New York in 1960, when I was 16. He won by 12.''
Einhorn said he wasn't sleeping much, but that he wasn't nervous about the bet. "The reason they call it the Dream Bet is you dream about it when you're awake and you dream about it when you are asleep,'' he said. "I'm optimistic I'm going to win the bet.''
When asked what he'd do with his winnings, Einhorn said: "I'd do what any American should do: pay my taxes. Then I'd give to our four children, then to charities, and then see if anything else is left.''