The man with the online persona of Popeye took down Pompano’s Super Hi-5 pool to the tune of $17,000 for all the world to see.
by Brett Sturman
This past Tuesday (Dec. 15), a bettor took down the entire Super Hi-5 pool in the final race at Pompano Park, returning just shy of $17,000. That, in of itself, would be far from newsworthy. While not an everyday occurrence, “pool shots” as they are known, and even larger five-figure payouts do occur with some degree of regularity. But what makes this instance unique isn’t even so much that it was hit on just a $4.80 ticket, but that the entire sequence of events played out live on the Internet for the world to see.
*** Warning *** Video contains profanity:
Andrew Blackmore, better known through his online persona’s as “Popeye” or “Pye” for short, documented the score through his LordPye85 stream on the Twitch Tv streaming platform. In something that he’s been doing since May, Blackmore and his followers interactively handicap and then play the races. In winning, he captured in a single moment the very essence of why so many of us play this game.
“It was kind of like a dream scenario,” said Blackmore. “I mean everything about it – obviously, the money is great – but then to kind of have emotion. The reason I started streaming live was to show the emotion and the ins and outs of everyday handicapping and to hopefully capture these kind of moments we see a lot of times during handicapping or races, those kind of eureka moments, either big or small. In this case it was big, but I want to show how great this can be, or on the flip side how excruciating it could be.”
Blackmore grew up going frequenting the races at Rosecroft with his dad five nights a week and considers himself to be a harness racing player first and foremost, though he also enjoys international racing from Australia and New Zealand, as examples.
“I’ve been handicapping harness for so long that I kind of have this entire mental spreadsheet of what goes on at all the different tracks and the layouts and drivers and trainers and that sort of thing,” said Blackmore.
As for the race that’s now made him an Internet sensation in racing circles, Blackmore approached the Super Hi-5 (a wager in which you select the first five finishers in the race) with a strong opinion against the heavy favorite. In the $5,000 claiming race for fillies & mares, Our Miss Reese, trained by Melissa Beckwith, was made the 2-5 favorite while shipping in the from the Meadowlands and making her first start in a month.
“It was mostly the trainer angle,” said Blackmore. “The horse was coming in first time off the shipper and usually first-time shipping by default – especially if they’ve been off for three or more weeks — I would exclude anyway. But in this case, it was kind of a weird situation because the trainer Beckwith had been doing well with shipping in here but on this particular night the barn had been really bad.
“And I knew it in spades because I had already been burned. I knew that the previous week that barn had been good – and really good with shippers – but that night was different. Horses that got absolutely ideal trips couldn’t end up finishing. And then later on in the night it just got worse and worse. And the race right before the final one, the same trainer had another heavy favorite that made a big closing move last week and then was terrible this week.
“So, we had a lot of knowledge heading into that last race and knew that a trainer with another favorite was not having a particularly good night.”
As for wagering strategy, “I did put in two different Super Hi-5’s. One was with the favorite and all the other horses I liked, and then I said, let’s fade the favorite completely and not even put him in fourth or fifth – and that was the logic there. The other horses I had – the 1, 2, 3 and 10 – there was no voodoo on those. Those horses all looked logical. And I was kind of stunned that the 1 was 70-1 because you could have told me that was 8-1 and I would have said that makes sense.”
As seen on the live stream, Blackmore got his modestly-priced ticket entered just a couple seconds before the race and from the way the race unfolded, you could from the onset there was a chance that the race wasn’t going to go to form. Our Miss Reese at 2-5 with Wally Hennessey yielded to an oncoming 50-1 longshot Gold Star Aurora prior to the quarter and then wasn’t able to retake because of a parked out Heavenly Evelyn from post 8. With the 50-1 bomb leading the way – the horse that Blackmore had in the 5th spot in the Hi-5 – a potential winning scenario came into view around the three-quarters mark.
There, the #1, a 73-1 Singalongwithbing (second start off the shipper) made a move around parked-out cover and began to wear down the long-time pacesetter. At that same time, the #10 – a horse that Blackmore had on top – began circling around the #1 and was well on its way. That’s where business on Blackmore’s live stream picks up and like any of us who’d be in that same position, he begins imploring home the rest of his ticket.
Blackmore’s euphoria at the race’s conclusion, and then again when the prices were posted, is something that everyone who plays the races in hopes of a score such as this one can relate to, watching in real-time an improbable $4.80 ticket becoming a five-figure reality.
“I think that it’s great and it goes to show that you don’t have to go crazy wide to hit a big price. Part of my approach is to show that you can small ball it and a lot of us are here betting various races at $4 and $6 and are looking to have a good time,” he said.