May 22, 2022

Las Vegas horseplayer enjoying Black Gold 5 score

Last updated: 3/3/14 4:02 PM

Jack Ninio, a 51-year old horseplayer from Las Vegas, has been playing the
races for more than 30 years since being introduced to the sport in college
while attending the University of Arizona, and his experience and persistence
paid off in the biggest of ways Saturday at Fair Grounds when he held the lone
winning ticket in the Black Gold 5, earning him a hefty payday of $463,219.

“When I was at school in Arizona, I was at a fraternity pledge meeting, and I
heard someone talk about how a player had won a Pick 6 at the Tucson Dog Park
for $17,000,” Ninio told Fair Grounds publicity. “I started playing the races
and have been playing horses for a long time and feel very happy — very
excited. That was a life-changing score for me.”

Fair Grounds has been one of his favorite wagering spots for some time. He
explained, “I love this game more than I can articulate to you, and I think the
racing at Fair Grounds is so far superior to so many other circuits. I’m a West
Coast guy, but the fields are almost always big down there, and it’s just such a
great product — Rosie (Napravnik) is out there along with so many other great
jockeys, there are great stakes races, and I am always really impressed with the

He had been following and playing the ever-increasing Black Gold 5 pool “for
months,” as the pool that he took down Saturday first started building on
December 14, 2013, and had picked his spots based on whether or not he thought
the jackpot could possibly pay out.

“There were some days when there were some small fields or lots of favorites
that I thought would win, and I would sit those days out, but Saturday’s races
looked like the kind of day when there could be just one winning ticket,” he
said. “And I saw the first few races in the sequence (Saturday) and thought
there were some vulnerable favorites, so I threw out some horses I thought could
get beat, but that I also thought would be used heavily on other players’

Ninio’s winning score came on a $1,764 play that did not include the race
favorite in the opening leg (Forest Henri, second at 9-5) nor did it include the
second-choice in the Black Gold 5’s second leg (Cotton Club Cutie, second at
5-2). Those two races kicked off the sequence with upset winners Charlie’s Ring
($17.20) and Pretty Petal ($27.40).

“After those first two legs with some shorter-priced horses I thought could
get beat, I went ahead and bought that maiden race (Awesome Houdini, $12.80),
and then I used most of them in the next race, throwing out only Hopeful Notion
and Purgenality.”

Alvear won that 8TH race, paying $21.60, and set him up for the payday of a
lifetime if favored Run Freely could win the finale.

“I thought the favorite in the last leg had not been disgraced when running
for $12,500, and now they were dropping him in for $5,000, and I didn’t think
anyone else could pick up their legs to keep up with him,” he wisely assumed, as
even-money favorite Run Freely made the lead near the eighth-pole and drew clear
under the wire for a 2 1/2-length score.

When asked about his overall wagering strategies, Ninio offered “I’m a player
who looks for value in carryovers. I will occasionally play win bets, but I’m
more of a Pick 4, Pick 5, and Pick 6 player with an eye on carryover pools.”

He repeatedly acknowledged that alongside handicapping acumen, luck plays an
important part in taking down the carryover portion of a wager like the Black
Gold 5.

“I am so excited to have been able to hit it, but I could have picked those
same five winners and still split the pool with someone else who had a great day
and managed to find them, too. Any horseplayer who has such an ego to think
they’re the greatest in the world for getting lucky on a day like that needs to
check their ego. I got lucky Saturday and things worked out my way, and I wish
there was a wager that would give more people more chances to have a day like

“As happy as I am to have hit this — and I really am very happy and excited
to have hit that one in a million chance of what I did (Saturday) — I would
honestly have been just as happy to hit for $100,000 and know that three other
people also hit it for $100,000 somehow,” he continued.

“I would love to see an innovative new wager that is sort of similar to
current jackpot wagers, but with a twist — something like a Jackpot Pick 7 with
a smaller increment that also had a provision to include more mandatory payout
days. Say, every time the pool hit $300,000, one half of that pool would
continue to carry over as the jackpot pool, but the other half would come out to
be the seed money for a one-day mandatory payoff day. That way, you would still
have a chance to hit the jackpot on a daily basis and take down the whole thing,
but everyone would have a chance to get a big payday on the mandatory payout
days. The pools would be massive and more people would have more frequent
chances to make really nice scores. That would put more money in the hands of
more people and I think that the more big winners there are, the better it is
for the game.”

On Saturday, however, Jack Ninio was still perfectly content being forced to
settle for being the only winner — with more than 463,000 reasons to be
thankful for his good fortune.

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