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Man Bets $6, Walks Away With $17K

January 14, 2000

MIAMI (AP) _ A man desperately seeking work found the payday of his life at Gulfstream Park last week.

The man, who identified himself as Evelio Gonzalez of Hialeah, Fla., hit a long-shot trifecta Saturday, winning $23,682, then disappeared the next day.

``A complete stranger, green as grass with horses,″ trainer James B. Toner said. ``And he struck it rich.″

Toner said he was short of help last Friday when he called the Hialeah Park stable gate asking if anyone was standing around looking for work.

Ten minutes later, the man showed up at Barn W. He admitted he knew nothing about horses.

Toner put him to work as a hot-walker, someone who walks horses to cool them off after their morning workouts. The job pays $195 a week.

On Saturday, Toner told the man to report to Gulfstream to help with a horse that was racing that day. The man then asked a fellow worker how to bet.

He bet $6 and walked away with $17,000 in cash after taxes, a far cry from what he seemed to have when he showed up at the track. He said he was out of work, down to his last few bucks and his wife was pregnant with twins.

The man played a $1 trifecta box, picking the first three finishers.

The man showed up at Toner’s barn the next morning and handed each of the trainer’s employees an envelope with $20 each. He hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

``He came in the next morning, said hello to everybody, and then told me he wanted to take a couple of days off,″ Toner said. ``What was I going to say? He made more money in a minute and 46 seconds than a hot-walker earns in a year.″

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