When you’re the lone winner of TwinSpires’ Place Payout Series!

Frank Rocca, a retired restaurateur from the Detroit area, was the only TwinSpires’ player to hit all eight of his $5 place bets April 14 at Keeneland to scoop a $28,000 jackpot, plus $151 in other bonuses and another $70 from the place bets. In total he won $28,221 from $40 bet.

“When I called my son to tell him, he didn’t believe me,” Rocca said. “I took a trip to Turfway Park once, and I won about $10,000 over the course of the weekend, so this is my biggest score now.”

Rocca, 64, said he relies heavily on horsemen statistics when handicapping races, such as jockey-trainer combos and how trainers do with off-the-turf runners, as happened several times on Sunday at Keeneland.

Rocca has three things planned: buy his daughter a microwave, invest and chase the Kentucky Derby superfecta. That last bet is personal to Rocca, who missed a five-figure score in 2001, when Point Given faded to fifth behind Thunder Blitz. Rocca said he had the top three correct, including a win bet on his top pick Monarchos at 10.5-1 ,with 55-1 Invisible Ink in second.

Last year Rocca picked Firenze Fire because the restaurant he sold was named Firenze. He still pops in to make some pizzas every now and then. This year Rocca has not made a pick yet, but he plans to pad his bankroll by betting trainer Brad Cox.

Rocca got into racing attending Hazel Park. He spent time working as a mutuel teller there and at Detroit Race Course. Before the simulcasting era, he would travel to neighboring Canada to place wagers. Now he’s thankful for TwinSpires.

“I really enjoy the racing in New York and Kentucky,” Rocca said. “I’d say New York is my focus year round, but with Derby coming up and Keeneland open, I play a lot of Kentucky too. We don’t have any live racing right now in Michigan. It’s a shame.”

The Place Payout Series continues April 28 and concludes May 5 with a mandatory payout. The promotion is worth at least $10,000 each day.

“We considered calling off the promotion because of all the scratches and surface changes on April 14 at Keeneland—thinking the jackpot would have to be shared by multiple players,” said TwinSpires Director of Marketing Bethani White. “We’re shocked there was a single winner and thrilled for Frank. We’ll all be rooting for his Derby superfecta, and there is still another opportunity to pad your Derby bankroll with our Place Payout Series. We’ve got a $16,000 carryover prize going into Sunday before our must-win day on Sunday, May 5.”

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