Mr. Murphy, 29, knew his horses well. He was able to tell which ones were on their toes and which ones needed a little more care. He also knew his way around a betting window. On a hunch, he bet $75 on five of his favorites. It was the sort of desperate stab that only a man who loves horses would make.
But he won — big. His $75 bet paid more than $1.5 million, enough to put down the shovel and become his own boss.