Trained horse player Thomas Nanni bet the Exacta, Trifecta and Daily Double in the final race in Santa Anita on Father’s Day night, turning an investment of $420 into $34,690. Its ticket structure is fantastic and worth studying.
Tom, far right in the photo above, with Jimmy the Chalk, Jason Saetta and announcer Tom Durkin (from left), shares the story of his big score, the secrets to his success, his South Philly background and details on his sports betting podcast, Bustle Up the broad street @BroadStHustle. Follow Tom on Twitter @Idontwaitinline.
Two kids, Father’s Day – did you spend the day living the Father’s Day dream and playing horses to your heart’s content?
We had breakfast here with my wife’s father and her side. The children took a nap. Then we went to my parents and did the rest. I had printed the PPs for Santa Anita and Disabled for Pick 6 but never decided on a ticket. I didn’t put anything in. It was a stress-free day — you know, I didn’t have to pretend to go to the bathroom to watch a race on my phone.
I was there.
Yes, the eternal battle of family life and horse play life. And of course I’m a weekend guy because I work, so I don’t get a chance to play during the week. You get the dirty looks from the woman when you phone in portrait from the side and she knows you are looking at PPs. But we got home around 6pm and by the time the kids went down it was 7.30am and I was like ‘well I already have a handicap’ so I looked back and I was like I’ll be in the last few races play something So it went on from there.
If you look at your trifecta tickets for The American (G3), your take on the race is so clear – Hong Kong Harry would win, Tarantino would come in third, and when that happens you definitely win. But you liked the two Neil Drysdale horses best and expressed that opinion.
In hindsight I should have had an exacta with Tarantino in second place because if he hangs on I don’t get paid. But sometimes I get a bit stubborn and refuse to accept other possibilities. My tickets all look like this. Always somewhat isolated or wedged and weighted. My larger scores are structured to have keys in first and second or first and third. And my multinationals always have a single or I don’t play them. Thorograph was the best match for me for Hong Kong Harry, he too reduced from 1 1/18 miles and obviously at tactical speed he would make the first jump on anyone nearby. In Santa Anita I noticed that there are tactical horses that are close to the pace in the last corner; They open at the closers and are sometimes difficult to catch. They wouldn’t run over him. When you envision a race, it doesn’t usually unfold like this, but if I could have written the diagram beforehand, it would have looked exactly how it unfolded.
How did it evolve?
Looking at the race I didn’t see a lot of speed. I saw that the 6 would probably take the lead. I had the Tarantino running close and Hong Kong Harry sitting right in front of the two or three leaders. And then I had Tarantino as the one who would make the first move and then just fade away, so I put him in third place. I believe horses that tend to run second will run second. Horses that tend to run third will also run third. It’s not just because they’re unlucky. They’re hangers or they’re walking this herd path. Homer screen I had from behind – Van Dyke usually likes to do that one run on the turf and Drysdale already had two wins on the card. I thought Hong Kong would make that first jump. And I used the 10 because he’s come second nine times. If I hadn’t kept him I would have had my say, but that’s all I can complain about. Another reason I played it was because I was very much against Vanzzy, who was the favorite in the prize pool at times. So I played stuff without him.
What was that moment like when you saw your horses crossing home?
When a horse caught Tarantino, I thought, “Oh, I ruined his race.” I hit my double and the tri. Then I heard Frank Mirahmadi say Homer Screen, the name of my A horses that finished second. Then it started me smashing this race. There’s nothing like winning, but I love the thrill of experiencing phenomenal will payments. Or knowing that you’ve just completed a race but don’t yet know the payouts. I saw that the exact payouts were $86, so I think the trifecta will be $400 or $500. Then I looked at the odds and the final odds were lower than when I placed my bet at 28-1 and 22-1 and I thought that could be really, really good. Then I saw the $1,480 payout on the dollar tri and said 10 times 14, that’s $14,000. My kids are sleeping and my wife is sleeping, I try to be calm. But then I remembered I had it 20 times. After that all hell broke loose. I was still calm, but I didn’t sleep much last night.
did you wake her up
Waking up the kids or waking up my wife isn’t worth 35,000. For this it would have to say: “We can withdraw money”. And part of me thought I didn’t finish the pick 4 handicap at Los Alamitos, so I can’t celebrate too much, I have to be right back. One of the things I enjoy is the Los Al show on Saturday and Sunday nights, everyone is in bed and it’s the only time I have to myself so I can watch it on TV not on my phone. So I put in some tickets.
Tell me about the podcast you do, Broad Street Hustle.
We started six weeks ago. I’m doing it with my cousin Jason Saetta, and our friend Jimmy the Chalk was a special guest; more than that, we only do it for ourselves. Something about our gambling, making bets. I live in Delaware now, but we’re all from Philadelphia. We’re about Philly sports, but we do whatever sport is the hot topic, and we include the horses, but we don’t go crazy with it because our friends who are listening aren’t as into horses as we are we. We do it once a week. It’s fun, a way to spin the shit when we talk about sports. We issued the Trifecta for the Belmont. For the US Open, we awarded first and second place finishers.
People want to talk about sports betting like a +500 team is winning which is great excitement but finding a 5-1 in horse racing is no problem, you can sniff those out in no time. Sports betting is four hours of entertainment so I understand that part of it but from a value perspective I have lost interest in sports betting because horse racing offers so much.
What other podcasts do you listen to?
I listen to Steve Byk every day. In the money, you know PTF, Kinchen, these guys. sport of kings I’m listening to Ron Flatter. I listen when I’m driving or when I’m mowing the lawn – we have a nice piece of land but I have a push mower so it takes me three hours and I turn on podcasts.
Who taught you how to play and handicap?
I don’t know, I just think it’s in you. My grandfather was a great player. Every Saturday he went to play cards. We’re from South Philly, an Italian neighborhood. It’s just there, part of our culture, I don’t know, so we’ve always been into that. In high school my buddy and I took bets from kids and we had a guy we would give them to. So we were kind of always close. Like I said, I think it’s just you.
But I also do research. I’ve been racing horses since Smarty Jones. After Smarty we went to the Turf Club, just like an OTB. I hit the Superfecta in the Preakness that brought in $400 and I thought I kind of wanted to know what I was doing. So I went and bought Davidowitz and Beyer, all the books. Now I have a collection. For the last five or six years I’ve been looking at it pretty intensely. The kids go to bed at 7 and I stay up until 10, taking notes and reading. Reading, watching, brain picking, following angles I’m successful with. Don’t get me wrong – I’m throwing $20 at a race I haven’t researched. I have gambling in me. But I like to research. I’m a big reader and learner before trying to tackle things.
Is this your biggest payday playing horse games?
That’s my single greatest score. I’ve seen some crazy things. But this was the biggest one race one ticket result. I’ve experienced over hundreds of thousands of illogical horses a few times, but that’s never happened to me.
I won $15,000 on Belmont Day. The 15-1 came in the first race and I was 4km ahead and I was on track at Belmont. After that I was like, now I have to fire, but nothing crazy, I just played the horses that I thought had a chance. Jack Christopher. Tribhuwan. And as I said on the podcast, Nest and Mo Donegal will definitely finish in the top 2. I was alive for everyone in the pick 5 going into the final race and I’ve had it multiple times but the favorite won.
Me and my buddies won $23,000 when Queen’s Trust beat Lady Eli in the Breeders’ Cup, we cracked pick 5; The champagne room was part of it. I’ve slammed for $10,000 alone or had other days where I’ve slammed for $15,000.
What are your secrets of success?
Formulator, TimeForm for the pace, but I also use Thorograph. I make trip notes in Formulator, but often I just remember. When it comes to horse racing I’m an idiot, remembering exact days and races, who rode the horse, saddlecloths. It’s hard to explain where that comes from. I still like to print and use different colored pens. Highlighter. There is a time when I have a handicap and sit out. To be honest, I like Handicap. I can just do that and watch the race. But when I have an opinion, I’m not afraid to fire.
I’m good at losing and moving on, which I wasn’t always good at. I had to learn. If I lose a race, I don’t give up; I just go to the next race. And that helps me create my tickets. I’m not just going to throw in favorites because they are the favorites. I like finding an opinion, singulating an opinion, keying it and building on it. Bet against favorites. If I play Pick 5 and lose to a favorite, so be it; I just move on to the next race.
What are you going to do with the money?
This money is for my bankroll, which is completely separate from my wife’s and I’s accounts, so that’s where it’s going to go. If one day it gets too big I’ll retire some, but it’s for the horses and golf betting and football season. I’ve cut back on sports betting of all kinds, and I don’t go to casinos too often; it’s mostly just horse racing. The money goes into the bankroll and I’ll be right back next Saturday.
Big Score celebrates the good days of horse racing. Kevin Kilroy is an author, handicapper and two-time NHC qualifier who cashed in 2021. As a Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots advertising specialist and freelance writer, you may find him on Twitter @trustyourluck.