Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 winner Graham Stone, a 40-year-old jeweler and father of three, has never seen a live horse race. But that is likely to change after Saturday's life-altering score of $2.6 million.
Stone, who will split the prize 50-50 with partner Will Dixon, plans to be conservative with the money but will use a portion for a trip to Saratoga next summer. "I really don't believe (the money) is going to change me too much," Stone said. "But my dream was always to go to Saratoga."
Stone's pick six wager cost only $8 and was made at the Time Out Lounge in Rapid City, South Dakota, about 9:15 a.m. local time on Saturday. His pick six ticket used singles in four legs and two horses in the Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I). He offered this explanation for the selections:Breeders' Cup Mile (Winner: Six Perfections)
--- Stone said he thought there was a lot of speed in the race so he was looking for a closer. "I had it between two horses and chose Six Perfections because Jerry Bailey was aboard."Sprint (Cajun Beat)
--- Stone felt Aldebaran was the class of the field but thought six furlongs might be a problem for the post-time favorite. "I wanted to put someone else in, and to be honest with you early Saturday I still didn't know who. I saw Andy Beyer picked Cajun Beat and that was the only reason I did."Filly and Mare Turf (Islington)
-- "I just liked her. I thought by far she was the best horse in the race last year," Stone said.Juvenile (Action This Day)
-- Stone's top choice was Tiger Hunt but he thought of 1999 Juvenile winner Anees when he selected the lightly-raced Action This Day. "I just like a horse that was improving and would obviously like the distance," he said. "I just thought the distance and speed fractions might help him."Turf (High Chaparral)
-- "Until an hour or so before, I thought I was going to use Falbrav. At the last minute I changed to High Chaparral. I just about had a stroke waiting for the photo outcome."Classic (Pleasantly Perfect)
-- "I like the second race off a layoff. I was gong to key Pleasantly Perfect last year, so I just really liked him in that race with the speed and everything."
Stone watched the first few races on television from his home while coloring with his 5-year-old. But after Action This Day won the Juvenile, Stone got up and began to pace.
"I told the kids to go upstairs; I had to be by myself," Stone said.
It was a couple hours after the completion of the card before Stone realized the payout. He said he went to the Santa Anita Web site and mistakenly thought the $18,000 consolation payout was all he would get.
"Then I saw it was five of six so I scrolled down," Stone recalled. "I called my wife and said look at it."
Her reaction? "Just shocked," Stone said.
In the wake of last year's Ultra Pick 6 scandal, racing officials were thorough in trying to authenticate the winning bet. Ken Kirchner, vice president of product development for NTRA, said phone calls were made to the Time Out Lounge that night and Stone was contacted the following day. Everything checked out.
"I've never been to Philadelphia or Drexel, so I'm OK with that," Stone joked, referring to the three former Drexel University fraternity brothers convicted of rigging last year's pick six payout.
The only other day Stone bet horses this year was the Kentucky Derby (gr. I). He keyed Empire Maker on top of his exotic wagers. "I've never cashed a Kentucky Derby ticket," Stone said.
He said his first bet was on 1996 Classic winner Alphabet Soup and after that he wagered about once a week. But prior to last year's Breeders' Cup his mother-in-law got sick and that has limited his wagering since to only the Derby and Breeders' Cup.