The Biggest Bets Ever Placed in Horse Racing History

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jockeys riding on their horses, racing on a sand track
BetMGM @BETMGM Jul 17, 2023, 12:31 PM

In a world where online sports betting has taken the thrill of the racetrack to screens worldwide, some bettors have found themselves caught up to the point of pushing the boundaries of regular wagers. And who could blame them? The sun glints off the glossy coats of the finest thoroughbreds, the tension rises as the gates spring open and fortunes swell with every stride.

Read on for the lowdown on the high rollers of the racetrack, the bettors who dared to dream big, bet big and defy the odds.

The Longest Odds Ever Conquered

On a sunny afternoon in 1913 at the Kentucky Derby, the unthinkable happened. The hero of the story was a horse named Donerail. Donerail wasn’t much to look at and no one saw him coming — not with the odds of +9100 against him. It seemed like the bookmakers had written him off before the race even began. But, oh boy, were they in for a surprise.

The race was on, the excitement was incredible and Donerail was not going to stick to the odds. Steadily, he surged forward, overcoming every hurdle and beating every expectation. With jockey Roscoe Goose guiding him, Donerail sprinted past the finish line, making history. The longest odds in Kentucky Derby history had been vanquished. A day when the underdog reigned supreme and reminded everyone that, in the exciting world of horse racing bets, anything can happen.

The Most Bets Placed on One Race

At the 2010 Kentucky Derby, known for its sea of fancy hats, mint juleps and, of course, some of the biggest horse racing in the world, the crowd was roaring with excitement as a staggering $30 million horse racing bet pool was up for grabs. The contenders? A field of the finest thoroughbreds, groomed and trained for this moment of glory. Among them was Super Saver, with jockey Calvin Borel, a man known for his magic touch, leading the charge. 

As the horses broke from the gates, the crowd held its breath. Borel, employing his usual strategy, broke toward the inside rail. The audience watched with bated breath as Super Saver, in fourth place rounding the final turn, charged to victory along the rail. An incredible late charge from Ice Box on the sloppy track added a dash of drama, but the day belonged to Super Saver.

The Biggest Win From a Single Bet

Conor Murphy wasn’t your typical high-roller or millionaire mogul; this man spent his life working with horses, understanding their every twitch, their every breath. He wasn’t one to bet often, but on a day in December 2011, he felt a spark, an intuition. He decided to place an accumulator bet on five horses that were performing exceptionally well. The horses belonged to the stable of Murphy’s boss, Mr. Henderson.

He placed a £50 bet on all five horses, even though the odds were stacked against him. The tension was palpable as the races began. One by one, each horse crossed the finish line in first place. Can you imagine the thrill, the adrenaline rush, the sheer disbelief?

Murphy’s small £50 bet had turned into a fortune of £1.2 million. It was the biggest win from a single bet in horse racing history. He was no longer just a stable worker; he had become a legend in the horse racing betting community. And the most amazing part? His life was forever changed by the horses he had worked with and cared for.

More Famous Bets in Horse Racing History

While these aren’t all the biggest bets in history, they do all hold a place in horse racing lore for good reason. Here are two more that definitely make the cut.

Kerry Packer, a wealthy Australian businessman and the man responsible for the largest bet ever placed, is known for placing a bet of approximately $1.6 million on a horse named Mahogany in the 1993 Melbourne Cup. After a conversation with jockey Hall, Packer added another $3 million to his bet. The horse won, earning Packer a payout of approximately $20 million.

Second on the list is Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a furniture store owner, who bet between $2.5 to $3 million on his favorite horse in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2022, a big contender for the biggest Kentucky Derby bet ever. McIngvale has reportedly wagered over $25 million since the 2021 Super Bowl.

Bet Big at BetMGM

From the biggest betting victories to some of the most impressive feats of luck and foresight, the world of horse racing betting is a thrilling one. You, too, can be part of this exciting world. 

Register at BetMGM, the King of Sportsbooks and go all‐in on the action. BetMGM is a reliable and trusted platform where you can place your bets with confidence on their secure website and app. With simple, fast payment methods, you can make super-quick deposits and payout withdrawals. Plus, you can earn big with BetMGM Rewards.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.