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Michael Phelps Derby bet that wasn't

Michael Phelps was busy in Charlotte, N.C., this weekend with his return to competitive swimming, so he couldn't attend the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes. But that's probably a good thing. The Olympian, you see, is still steaming a bit over the Derby bet that wasn't.

Phelps attended his first Kentucky Derby a few weeks ago, and he and his coach, Bob Bowman, spent the day in Bob Baffert's luxury box because Phelps is friends with a member of Baffert's family. The 14-time gold medal winner is an admitted novice to the Sport of Kings, so he decided prior to the day that he was going to be $20 on the No. 8 horse in every race. The number eight having special meaning for Phelps, obviously, because it matches the eight gold medals he won in Beijing in August, breaking Mark Spitz's record for golds in a single Olympics.

Considering that eventual Derby winner Mine That Bird -- a 50-to-1 long shot prior to the race -- was starting from the No. 8 position, you'd assume Phelps hit it big in his first Triple Crown race, right?

Not exactly. You see, Phelps managed to bet on the No. 8 horse in ever single race except the Kentucky Derby. His Derby bet, Pioneerof the Nile,

"It's a touchy subject, ok?" Phelps joked last week. "But yeah. Literally ever race except that one. I figured Pioneerof the Nile was a good bet to win. And as soon as (Mine That Bird) starts coming, my friends were like 'Nah, he's gonna die. No way. No way.' But he wins, and I just sat down and put my hands to my head. How do I not take the No. 8 horse?"

A few races prior to the Derby, Phelps had even managed to convince the people in the box next to Baffert's to put money on the No. 8 horse. He told them eight had always been lucky for him.

"Afterward, they were like 'We won!' " Phelps said. "I just shook my head. It's like getting one-outed in poker. Not cool."


Being a horse race fan back in the '70's and '80's, Michael's story is one we all have. You go and everybody wins but you. The pain is part of the pleasure. Very good race yesterday. Mine That Bird wins easily if he's not blocked by that wall of horses. I havn't heard anybody mention that yet. The filly good but should have been beaten yesterday. That's racing. The filly deserved the race and make the Belmont very interesting.

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