Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Sat Aug 15 22:38:48 UTC 2009

George Thompson wrote:
> 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?

This is all handwaving on my part, but I have a vague recollection of
some hard-boiled cop show or detective story using "jackpot" this way,
maybe Hill Street Blues or similar vintage. Is this totally my imagination?

Alice Faber                                       faber at haskins.yale.edu
Haskins Laboratories                            tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                               fax (203) 865-8963

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

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