Who Cracked the Horse-Racing Code?


Steed hustling is something like a religion in Hong Kong, whose residents wager more than any other person on Earth. Their house of God is Happy Valley Racecourse, whose verdant oval track and floodlit stands are ringed during the evening by one of the game’s most fabulous perspectives: neon high rises and perfect piles of tall structures, a heavenly body of lit up windows, and past them, rich slopes outlined in murkiness.

On the night of Nov. 6, 2001, all of Hong Kong was discussing the greatest big stake the city had ever observed: in any event HK$100 million (at that point about $13 million) for the champ of a solitary wager called the Triple Trio. The bet is similar to a trifecta of trifectas; it expects players to foresee the main three steeds, in any request, in three unique warms. In excess of 10 million blends are conceivable.

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At the point when nobody picks accurately, the prize cash moves over to the following arrangement of races. That refreshing November night, the pot had gone unclaimed multiple times over. Around a million people put down a wager—equal to 1 of every 7 city occupants. At Happy Valley’s ground level, young ladies in brew tents passed frothy pitchers to chuckling expats, while the nearby Chinese, for whom betting is an increasingly genuine undertaking, grasped hustling papers and hung over the handrails. At the split of the starter’s gun, the commentator’s voice rang out over amplifiers: “Last leg of the Triple Trio,” he yelled in Australian-complemented English, “and away they go!”

As the pack roared around the last curve, two ponies ripped ahead. “It’s Mascot Treasure a length in front, however Bobo Duck is gunning him down,” said the host, voice rising. “Bobo Duck in front. Mascot fighting back!” The group thundered as the riders dashed over the end goal. Bobo Duck edged Mascot Treasure, and Frat Rat came in third.

Over the street from Happy Valley, 27 stories up, two Americans sat in an extravagant office, disregarding a live feed of the activity that played mutely on a TV screen. The main sound was the murmur of twelve PCs. Bill Benter and a partner named Paul Coladonato had their eyes fixed on a bank of three screens, which showed a lattice of wagers their calculation had made on the race—51,381 taking all things together.

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Benter and Coladonato looked as a product content sifted through the losing wagers, each one in turn, until there were 36 lines left on the screens. Thirty-five of their wagers had accurately called the finishers in two of the races, fitting the bill for an incidental award. Furthermore, one bet had effectively anticipated every one of the nine ponies.
“F – ,” Benter said. “We hit it.”

It wasn’t promptly clear the amount they’d made, so the two Americans endeavored some back-of-the-envelope math until the official profit flashed on TV eight minutes after the fact. Benter and Coladonato had won a big stake of $16 million. Benter checked the zeros to ensure, at that point swung to his associate.

“We can’t gather this—can we?” he inquired. “It would be unsporting. We’d feel awful about ourselves.” Coladonato concurred they proved unable. On a close-by table, pink wagering slips were orchestrated in a clean heap. The two men picked through them, separating three slips that contained every one of the 36 winning lines. They gazed at the bits of paper for quite a while.

At that point they presented, snickering, for a photograph—two expert speculators with the greatest prize of their vocations, one they could never guarantee—and secured the tickets a safe. No major ordeal, Benter figured. They could make it back, and that’s only the tip of the iceberg, over the remainder of the hustling season.

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