Three-year-old thoroughbred American Pharoah made history on Saturday by becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years and small-time bettors are apparently eager to claim their own little slice of history.
On Monday, Belmont Stakes spokesman John Durso Jr. told ESPN that there were 94,128 bettors who took a $2 punt on American Pharoah winning Saturday’s race. Of those bettors, 90,237 have yet to redeem their tickets for their $3.50 winnings. In other words, the Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack bookies are sitting on $315,829 worth of unclaimed winners, which are valid until March 31, 2016.
The unclaimed tickets have made their way onto online auction houses like eBay, where other history buffs have bid up their value to as high as $30. However, this gold rush isn’t likely to last, so anyone who hasn’t already sold his ticket for more than the $3.50 value has likely missed the boat. The sheer number of similar artifacts out there makes this a buyer’s market with already limited appeal.
Of course, the sentimental value of being able to hold a piece of history in your hand is incalculable. But anyone hoping to put this puppy in the safe and redeem it for big bucks in 20 years is swilling the same snake oil that convinces people to buy those cellophane-sealed master-pack boxes of baseball cards that MLB issues each year.
American Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat was a double-winner, having succeeded in convincing a court to dismiss a $1.65m online gambling debt nuisance lawsuit just days prior to Saturday’s race. Oddly enough, Zayat – a known race betting whale – claimed not to have made a wager on Saturday’s race. ESPN’s Darren Rovell quoted Zayat explaining that he wasn’t “a pig. If [Pharoah] wins, I get the purse.” Yeah, and if we’re Zayat’s bookie, we’re not paying out on this alleged non-wager.