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Hammond Egg | 22:53 Thu 01st Jun 2006 | Phrases & Sayings
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Why, in betting, is a yankee so called?


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This from a betting site:

"In the United Kingdom bookmakers offer exotic wagers on horses at different tracks. Probably the Yankee occurs most commonly: in this the bettor tries to pick the winner of four races. This bet also includes subsidiary wagers on smaller combinations of the chosen horses; for example, if only two of the four horses win, the bettor still collects for their double. A Trixie requires trying to pick three winners, and a Canadian or Super Yankee trying to pick five; these also include subsidiary bets. The term nap identifies the best bet of the day."

That doesn't answer the question though. I'd like to know as well as it's intrigued me for some time too. I'd also like to know why is a patent called a patent?
There is no record of the word 'yankee' in this sense before the early 1960s. As betting-shops were made legal in the UK in 1960, I suspect it - and many other bets and bet-names were created by the big bookies at that time to attract punters in.
At a guess, America was always associated with 'big' things at that time, so an eleven-bets-in-one wager was probably seen as typically Yankee.
Frequently the bet types are named after the number of lines. A Heinz is so called because there are 57 lines. I can't find anything that gives the origin of Yankee, Canadian or Patent.
Question Author

Thanks gents.

A Canadian is called a Canadian because it covers one more event than a Yankee, and Canada is above the USA on the map.

And they all have one thing in common, despite their exciting names. In every case more than 50% of the bets are lost as soon as one of the selections fails to wiin!

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