Firefighter's Lost Derby Superfecta Ticket Found at Turf Paradise

Edited from Turf Paradise release
Matching Giacomo's unbelievable victory in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (gr. I) at 50-1 was Christopher Hertzog's loss of his $864,253 Derby Superfecta ticket Saturday and then having it found 24 hours later at Turf Paradise racetrack in Phoenix, Arizona.

"I never knew I had so many emotions," said Hertzog, 39, a 16-year veteran of the Phoenix Fire Department. "I couldn't believe I lost this once in a lifetime payday. It's unbelievable that it was found."

The winning ticket was found by the very mutuel teller that had sold Hertzog his mutuel tickets.

Brenda Reagan, a mutuel teller at Turf Paradise for eight years, had punched out one hundred $1 tickets for Hertzog.

"Chris bet fifty $1 Superfectas and fifty $1 trifectas," said Reagan. "He was the only one who played quick picks."

After being notified by the mutuel director that her machine had sold a winning Superfecta ticket on the first four finishers in the Kentucky Derby, she informed Hertzog that he had won.

"I had already tossed my tickets away," said Hertzog. "I couldn't believe it."

Track management collected all the trash bags in the clubhouse area where Hertzog said he had discarded his tickets. Then Hertzog and his friends spent the next two hours sorting through a lot of Derby Day debris. But no winning ticket was found.

Then at about 4:00 pm Sunday, Reagan noticed two mutuel tickets lying at the side of her machine. Upon closer inspection she saw they were Kentucky Derby Superfecta wagers, one of which was the winning lost ticket.

"When I punched out Chris' tickets, there were so many that they bunched up and these two must have fallen to the side," said Reagan. "I informed management and then called Chris right away."

"What a roller coaster ride this has been," said Hertzog, who was off to relax at his Montana cabin and do some fly fishing. "Just unbelievable. Don't you just love happy endings?"