The term “bridgejumper” has a different meaning in horse racing than it does in everyday life.
In racing, it refers to someone who makes a huge bet on a prohibitive favorite, hoping for a safe but miniscule return on that wager.
A good example of bridgejumping would be placing $10,000 to show on odds-on favorite with the intention of getting the minimal $2.10 return for each $2 bet.
In that equation, a $10,000 bet would generate a profit of $500. Those 1-20 odds are not a bad return on a minute or two-minute race, and if you hit five or six of those bets in a row, you could amass $2,500 or $3,000 in profit.
Of course, one loss can be very hard to offset. You’ll need to hit 20 out of 21 wagers just to break even.
The flip side involves what happens when bridgejumpers lose their bet and trigger some gargantuan payoffs.
Let’s turn to the fifth race at Laurel Park on Feb. 18, 2017. A field of seven turned out for the Maryland Racing Media Stakes, and Wait Your Turn towered over six rivals. Shipping in off some big efforts in New York, Wait Your Turn was dismissed as a 3-10 favorite in the win pool.
In the show pool, however, Wait Your Turn was 1-20 – and then some. Of the $253,976 wagered to show on the race, bridgejumpers invested $222,695 to show on him. With a takeout of 18% on show bets, that meant $45,715.68 was removed from the pool, leaving $208,260.32.
Under those conditions, with Laurel having to pay back $222,695 plus a nickel for every one of those dollars, it was faced with the possibility of a minus pool – a situation in which the track has to offset the shortage between the money in a betting pool and the money owed to holders of winning tickets.
If, and only if, he finished no worse than third. Which, as bridgejumpers know all too well, isn’t a sure thing.
As a result, it’s not unusual to see contrarians make small bets against the bridgejumpers, knowing they can collect some inordinately high show payoffs if horses such as Wait Your Turn flop and fail to hit the board. Which is exactly what happened.
Wait Your Turn never fired and faded to fifth as Winter prevailed at 3-1, followed by Bawlmer Hon at 24-1 and Love Came to Town at 42-1.
Winter paid $8.20 to win and $5 to place, but then soared to $11 to show as he had $13,511 wagered to show on him. Bawlmer Hon returned $15.40 to place and a whopping $46.40 to show with $2,878 on him in the pool. Love Came to Town, with just $1,641 in show bets, returned an astronomical $80.20 to show.
Those payoffs clearly reflect the yin and the yang among bridgejumpers and the gamblers who wager against them. While the bridgejumpers are risking thousands of dollars for a nickel off each dollar, the opposition party is putting up a dollar in hopes of getting 10 or 20 of them in return.
The key part of this strategy is that if you want to bet against a bridgejumper, you have to be sure that you have a winning ticket if the favorite runs up the track. In the case of the Maryland Racing Media Stakes, if you bet just one of the other six horses in the field, you would be pretty aggravated if you picked the horse who finished fourth and your ticket was as worthless as the bridgejumpers’ tickets on Wait Your Turn.
In that race you would probably want to place a show bet on every horse in the race, to be assured of collecting three show payoffs, but at the very least you want to bet on at least four of them so you have at least one winning ticket.
In either case, keep all of that in mind that when you spot a bridgejumper springing into action. If you want more than a nickel for your dollar, it could make sense to jump into that pool as well.