When he was a minor, Joel Einhorn was thrown out of Aqueduct three times for being underage. On two of those occasions, he promptly repaid his admission and returned to the track, and the teen soon became a life-long New York racing fan when he saw Kelso, then a three-year-old who had yet to compete in a stakes, win a Big A allowance by 12 lengths on July 16, 1960.
"Kelso was just the greatest horse, and he made me a racing fan," Einhorn said.
Decades later, Einhorn, now 68, will attend the Kentucky Derby for the first time and will have the chance to make a life-changing score on the "Run for the Roses." The Flushing, New York, resident was randomly selected as the winner of the Kentucky Derby DreamBet contest, which will provide him the opportunity to make a $100,000 win wager on the race.
Einhorn, who received multiple decorations for his service in the Vietnam War, admits the high stakes have created a lot of stress.
"I haven't slept well in the past days," Einhorn stated. "I'm going to try to approach this by separating the bet from the experience of attending the Kentucky Derby. To win it will be life-changing, but to dwell on it will take away from the overall experience. (My wife and I) are going to take a lot of pictures, and it's great that she's into it. Can we run the race tomorrow?"
Einhorn sees the 2012 Kentucky Derby as a competitive race and said he isn't ready to make a commitment to a particular horse.
"I had some preconceived ideas about the contenders, but I brushed them aside and I'm reassessing everybody," Einhorn said. "All I want is to be lucky. You can be so smart, but luck wins the race."
In January, Einhorn competed in the NTRA/DRF National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas, having qualified by finishing third in Aqueduct's Fall Handicapping Challenge in November.