Best Bets: A handicapping history of the Breeders' Cup, Part I [Breeders' Cup]

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This article appeared in the November 2010 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.

Phil Lynch was having a bad day at the track. Through the first five races of the 2004 Breeders’ Cup championships at Lone Star Park, in Grand Prairie, Texas, Lynch hadn’t picked a winner, hadn’t cashed a ticket. But suddenly he flashed to a famous Seinfeld episode in which the George Costanza character is lamenting his failed life:

“It’s not working, Jerry,” Costanza tells Seinfeld. “Every decision I’ve ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of what I want it to be. Every instinct in every aspect of my life — what to wear, what to eat — has been wrong.”

Lynch felt the same way. “Nothing I did was right. Everything I did was wrong. It was a George Costanza moment.”

But in the show, Seinfeld suggests to Costanza, “If every instinct you’ve had is wrong, then the opposite must be right.”

“Yes” says George, latching on to the notion. “I will do the opposite.”

And so did Lynch. The Louisville racing fan dove back into his program and resurrected all the horses he’d previously crossed out, while tossing aside the ones he’d picked, and walked to the window to bet an exact opposite pick-3 on the day’s final three Breeders’ Cup races. The opposite of everything he thought was right. A George Costanza Special.

Right away, George  — I mean Phil’s — luck changed. First, an unheralded English pony named Wilko rolled home in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at 28-1. Then Better Talk Now, a horse who always ran in big races but never won, did win the Turf at 27-1. And finally, Ghostzapper, a lukewarm 5-2 favorite that Lynch hadn’t been all that sold on, cruised to victory in the Classic.

From nothing to the opposite of nothing! Says Lynch, “I ended up cashing a pick-3 that paid over $4,000.”

Photo: Courtesy Breeders' Cup