Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire.
There is no shortage of words that can be used to describe the sixth and last race of the day at The Meadowlands on Oct. 25.
Unbelievable, unfathomable and unimaginable are just a few of the words beginning with the letters "un" that seem apropos.
Using a mix of the letters in the alphabet, educational also fits as there was an important lesson to be learned from the turf race.
The winner, Rocket Reign, was sent off not at 20-1, not at 40-1, not even 80-1.
He was sent off at, get this, 182-to-1, plus 30 cents on the dollar to cover the breakage.
All told, Rocket Reign returned a track record $366.60 for each $2 win bet on him, which were probably as scarce as people who believe the Jacksonville Jaguars can win the Super Bowl.
As outlandish as the odds were, they actually might have been an underlay. In 15 starts, Rocket Reign had never finished better than fifth, and he had previously - and unsuccessfully - raced for a lower claiming price than the $18,000 tag he carried in the Oct. 25 race (Believe it or not, he was not claimed for that $18,000).
In his last 12 races, his closest loss was by nine lengths. In five of those starts, he lost by 23 lengths or more.
His trainer, Francis Meares, owned a 1-for-52 record in 2013 prior to the race.
182-to-1? 282-to-1 might have seemed fair.
So what was the lesson here?
Rocket Reign did sport a bullet work of 35 4/5 between his last race on Sept. 7 and his astonishing victory. He also had a rider switch to Cory Orm, who is winning at a 7 percent clip this year, which is astronomical compared to the win marks of the horse and trainer.
Now if you believe this is heading toward a conclusion that Rocket Reign was worth a wager because of the work and jockey switch, sorry.
I'm not sure if the Wizard of Oz, or Odds, could have come up with the rationale to back Rocket Reign with conviction.
The lesson, instead, involves the merits of pushing the All button.
While including every horse in the race in your wager may be viewed as a bad financial proposition or wishy-washy handicapping by some, the existence of a Rocket Reign underscores the value of the tactic.
In this instance, let's say you liked the 7-2 second choice in the race, Atavism. Since there was an overall lack of compelling form in the race, if you bet him to win and then backed it up by wheeling him for second in the exacta with every other horse in the race you no doubt found yourself rooting quite hard in the final yards - for Atavism to finish second.
As it turned out, that All with Atavism exacta cost $18 for $2 bets and returned $1,171.
Now let's say you liked First Whippoorwill, a 10-1 shot in the fifth race. Given his odds, if you wanted to make sure you hit the double with him and then wheeled him with everyone in the sixth race - a $20 investment for $2 bets - you would have collected $2,223 dollars and 60 cents for the spare charge jar.
While the All button might not make sense in small fields with everyone clustered together at similar odds, there are surely times when you feel strongly enough about a horse in a large field that the wheel is a proper dose of insurance for those times when the un's happen.
Keep that in mind when the Breeders' Cup rolls around as the All button might allow you to cash a huge ticket even though your horse finishes second.
Remember, with a horse like Rocket Reign, it's usually all or nothing.
THE LESSON: In large fields, using the All button and including your horse with every other horse in the race can sometimes allow you to cash a ticket on an exotic combination that handicapping alone would never have pointed out.
ROCKET REIGN'S PAST PERFORMANCES