Hoyt hoping for another shot at Kentucky Derby Dream Bet glory
But last year, Hoyt placed a $25,000 bet on Exaggerator to win the 2016 Kentucky Derby (G1).
“I’m a casual handicapper, I’m not a big bettor,” he said. “I’m a big fan but not a big bettor.”
So how did this “casual handicapper” end up making such a huge wager on one race?
Because he won the 2016 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet contest sponsored by TwinSpires.com. The contest is divided into two stages – the Qualifying Round and the Final Round. All players had to do was cash at least one $15 win bet on a single horse in any of the nine contest races, which were also part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby points series.
“Actually it was how much you had to wager,” Hoyt replied when asked what attracted him to the contest. “It’s something that I do anyways for the Derby preps, so you might as well enter it. Plus the prize was pretty good.”
The grand prize was an all-expenses paid Kentucky Derby weekend package for two, including airfare and hotel. And of course, the Kentucky Derby free bet of $25,000.
“I kept track every step of the way,” Hoyt said. “The last prep race (2016 Arkansas Derby [G1]) I knew I was either close to winning or going to win it and that was on a Saturday and I knew I had to wait until Monday morning to see if I won.
“I sort of went crazy when (Creator) won for me. I kind of thought I might have it. I thought I had a good shot.”
When Monday rolled around, so did an email from TwinSpires.com’s Lucky Kalanges congratulating Hoyt on winning the Kentucky Derby Dream Bet contest.
“I was in work and I read the email and I got very excited,” Hoyt laughed. “I told my boss ‘I need a few days off’ and he saw how happy I was. (He told) me to just go outside and take a walk.
“I told a lot of people right then, including my wife. I told her to get ready to pack her bags.”
Both Hoyt and his wife, Penny, ended up packing their bags for a “terrific, tremendous” experience.
“It was a great time we had, me and my wife,” Hoyt said. “Everything was paid for, the admission, the food, the drink, the programs, the hotel.
“And of course the $25,000 bet did not hurt either.”
When it came time to make the actual bet, Hoyt went with Exaggerator.
“I just liked his last race in the Santa Anita Derby (won by 6 1/4 lengths),” he explained. “It just seemed such a good race and he’s a come-from-behind horse and there were a lot of come-from-behind horses in last year’s Derby. I thought he would be able to get the jump on them all.”
Exaggerator came flying in the stretch of the 2016 Kentucky Derby but couldn’t quite catch Nyquist before that runner hit the wire in front.
“I thought he could do it, I thought it was going to be close but he came up just short,” Hoyt sighed.
Though he missed last year, Hoyt is hoping for another shot.
“I will be playing in this every year that (TwinSpires.com has) it from now on,” he stated. “I’ve made the finals (for the 2017 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet). It’s not too hard to make the finals. We’ll just see how it goes.
“Why not go back, I say.”