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What is a “bridge jumper” in horse racing betting?

“Bridge jumper” is a term used to describe someone who bets large sums to show (finish in the top three) or sometimes to place (finish in the top two), especially on a low-odds favorite.

The nickname comes from the fact that even “sure things” sometimes stumble, and when they do these bettors are likely looking for the nearest span from which they can hurl themselves.

Show betting is generally disdained by experts as a money-burning strategy, but bridge jumpers can create a positive return on investment in rare situations by betting immense amounts on a horse to show. That occurs because racetracks have historically rounded payouts to the nearest 10-cent or 20-cent increments, meaning the minimum payoff on a $/£2 wager is either $/£2.10 or $/£2.20.

That can create what is known as a “minus show pool,” where the track must pay out more to bettors than it takes in to cover purses, expenses and profit.

But bridge jumpers also create a positive situation for bettors who take the opposing view by wagering on every other horse in the race, realizing that the show prices on these other entrants will be wildly inflated if the heavily backed favorite somehow falters and finishes off the board.