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That California Touch : Building Inspector Wins $753,694 on a $24 Pick-Seven Bet


Before Saturday, $3,100 was the most money Jim Love had ever won at a racetrack.

"I hit a $1 trifecta at Hollywood Park, then stayed for the quarter horses at night and hit some exactas and quinellas," he said.

Love, a building inspector from Artesia, did considerably better on Breeders' Cup Day. He held one of the four perfect tickets in the National Pick Seven, winning $753,694.40. He also had four consolation tickets worth $2,883.20 apiece. After taxes, Love, 39, was presented a check for $612,185.20 during a winner's circle ceremony between races Sunday at Santa Anita.

The other winning tickets were purchased in Kentucky, Florida and Montana.

Not a bad return on Love's $24 investment. A horseplayer since 1986, Love said he believed he was wasting his time with the Pick Seven. "I thought I was throwing the money away," he said.

Instead, all four of the horses he singled--Thirty Slews in the Sprint, Eliza in the Juvenile Fillies, Gilded Time in the Juvenile and A.P. Indy in the Classic--came through. Then, he ran 1-2-3 with his selections in the Distaff--Paseana, Versailles Treaty and Magical Maiden. In the Mile, he used longshot Lure and Bistro Garden.

What separated Love and the three other perfect tickets from the rest of the country was Fraise, the upset winner of the Turf. Love used Fraise and Navarone in the 1 1/2-mile race, leaving out heavily favored Sky Classic--who ran second, beaten by a nose.

"I threw out the European horses, concentrated on the Californians and I just got lucky," Love said. "California had a good day, and so did I."

After coming to Santa Anita in the morning, Love watched the first three live races and the first two Breeders' Cup events before driving to his girlfriend's house to watch the rest. "I heard the result of the Distaff on the radio, then watched the rest."

Love said he plans to buy a house and purchase cars for his two daughters, ages 20 and 22.

"I've been pounding the ponies for six years," he said. "I'm just staggered. I love the track and I'll keep coming back. But I'm a small bettor, and this isn't going to change my habits."

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