Glen Fullerton (right) celebrates his success with jockey Calvin Borel.

Glen Fullerton (right) celebrates his success with jockey Calvin Borel.

Dave Harmon

Hunch Play Pays Off Big for Racing Fan

Contest winner puts $100,000 on Super Saver and experiences life-changing score.

By Will Graves, AP Sports Writer

Glen Fullerton’s not much of a gambler.

A couple bucks at the blackjack table here. A few dollars at the craps table there.

The 40-year-old software designer from Houston, Texas has always loved the Kentucky Derby but never spent a dime trying to pick a winner in the Run for the Roses.

When Fullerton won a $100,000 contest sponsored by Churchill Downs and CNBC to place one win bet on a Derby horse, the stakes changed considerably.

On May 1, so did his life.

Fullerton took the large suitcase filled with cash to the betting window on Saturday, took a deep breath and let it ride on Super Saver .

A half hour later, Fullerton was in a decidedly higher tax bracket. He cashed in a win ticket worth more than $900,000 after jockey Calvin Borel and Super Saver stomped through the mud to victory at odds of 8-1.

Heady territory for a guy who was thrilled when he pocketed $100 of his own money while betting at the track the day before.

“I hit a good exacta, I was happy,” he said. “It was a good day.”

And it led to a sleepless night. Fullerton woke up in his hotel room around 2:30 a.m. on Derby morning. The power was out. The wind was howling. His decision was looming.

“I tried everything I could to think of something else,” he said. “I couldn’t get the race or the horse out of my mind. Even some of the simple functions like finishing a drink, I couldn’t do it.”

He received plenty of advice on who to back in the Derby. Fullerton estimated he heard the name of all 20 horses at least once.

Yet not everyone was forthcoming with a pick. Too much pressure.

“Most people I asked were a little hesitant,” he said. “I wouldn’t want that responsibility.”

Fullerton says he finally settled upon Super Saver based on Borel’s success at Churchill Downs and the 3-year-old colt’s steady improvement.

And no, he didn’t think of making a run for it when he was handed the briefcase filled with a cool 100 grand.

“There were a couple of very large law enforcement officers standing right next to me,” he said with a laugh.

Fullerton wasn’t tempted to back one of the long shots even though it would have made him a millionaire a couple of times over.

“I’m a fairly conservative person and I was here to win,” he said.

Did he ever. Fullerton has no immediate plans on what to do with the windfall. He’ll be back at work on the morning of May 3.

“This is definitely life-changing, but you know, I don’t have to spend it all this next week,” he said.