A multi-millionaire punter who is rumoured to be placing the biggest bet ever in US racing has staked the first part of his monster gamble.
A picture has circulated online of $500,000 – just under £362,000 – being staked on Kentucky Derby favourite Essential Quality.
The man behind the huge gamble is American mattress salesman Jim 'Mattress Mack' McIngvale.
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He has pledged to stake up to £2.9million on the Godolphin-owned horse – who human rights lawyers tried to bar from running.
After slamming down half a million, McIngvale, who says he has wired the full £2.9m amount to racecourse bookies, confirmed the bet was genuine.
He told Horse Racing Nation: "The bet was placed at Churchill Downs.
"Someone did it for me. It’s very important to me that all the bets are placed at Churchill Downs, which helps the Kentucky Thoroughbred racing fund and Kentucky horsemen."
According to that website, McIngvale's mega influx of cash saw Essential Quality's odds plummet.
They said the horse went from 5-1 to 3-5 – in other words, odds-on to win.
The other effect of that was to lengthen the odds of the other horses, at least temporarily.
Rock Your World had been 5-1 but went to 7-1 after the businessman's bet went in.
McIngvale, 70, from Houston, Texas, has his mobile phone number on his company's website.
He said he has been inundated with calls from punters all over desperate to pass on their tipping advice.
He said: "My number is posted on the GalleryFurniture.com website, so I’m getting calls and advice from all around the world.
"I’m just trying to keep track of who’s right and who’s wrong."
McIngvale is staking the bet after launching the 'Kentucky Derby fav wins, you win' initiative.
Any customer who buys a mattress for £2100 or more in his store will get their money back if the favourite obliges on Saturday.
The plucky businessman, who expects to flog 2000 mattresses and wants to cover losses, said: "The favourite has won the Derby six out of the last seven times and if that happens this year the people who bought the mattresses will get 100 per cent of their money back."
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