George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat Aug 15 22:26:08 UTC 2009

The current issue of Bloodhorse, a magazine devoted to thoroughbred racing, in its on-line form (bloodhorse.com) has an article on Bob Baffert, a trainer who has just been inducted into the sport's Hall of Fame.  He had begun his career in quarter-horse racing, and credits the experience with his later success with thoroughbreds.
“It was a lot of trial and error—mostly error,” he noted. “You had to get to the point where you could fix problems. There was no medication. You used Absorbine and alcohol and rubbed those legs until the filling was gone. I’d rub for hours and get those legs tight while my dad sat on a bucket watching. I’ve seen every jackpot a horse can get himself into, and when a problem comes up today, I remember a horse having had it in the past and remember some off-the-wall remedy I learned working on those Quarter Horses.”

This sense of "jackpot" isn't in the OED; oddly, though, among its array of quotations illustrating the sense of "prize", are two that certainly seem to really illustrate Baffert's meaning: "problem".

1959 Maclean's Mag. 4 July 34/3 Canada House receives SOS messages from ‘distressed Canadians’, the official designation for those who get themselves into various jackpots.
[1962 Sunday Times Suppl. 10 June 10 There is always the chance that one or other number or artist will hit the jackpot.]
1963 Listener 28 Mar. 568/3 Cabinet Ministers are hauled out in front of the cameras and asked increasingly impertinent leading questions. A week or two ago Mr. Butler copped one of these jackpots from Robert Mackenzie: did he, or did he not, want to be Prime Minister?


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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