BC Pick 6 probed!

Oct 29, 2002 5:54 AM

   Fraud or good handicapping with extraordinary luck?

   That is what is being investigated following the determination that one individual bet six individual pick six tickets to take down the entire winning end of a $2.5 million Breeders’ Cup pool on Saturday.

   But, he hasn’t collected yet!

 The winner’s pool has been frozen with the “settlement withheld until the pool wagering activity has been verified,” said Marc Laino, assistant executive director of the Illinois Racing Board.

   Being investigated is when a 29-year-old Maryland horse player with a telephone account to the Catskill Off-Track Betting Corporation actually made his call to the wagering service.

   Donald Groth, who runs the OTB operation, said the bettor asked that his identity not be revealed but that he is well-known to the OTB staff.

   When the information became known that the individual’s wagering resulted in six winning tickets, both Tim Smith, head of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and D.G. Van Clief, president of Breeders’ Cup, wrote to the New York Racing and Wagering Board, asking that they look into the matter.

   Under a lease arrangement, the NTRA and Breeders’ Cup take over the operation of the track designated each year to host the World’s Championship races. This year’s host was Arlington Park outside Chicago, Ill.

   Wagers on the Breeders’ Cup races are placed at outlets throughout the world and electronically transferred into a common pool at the host track.

   Groth said he had looked into the wagering and found that “there is nothing to indicate that this was anything but a very good day for our customer.

   Still, horse players from around the world will question how one individual would “single” his selection in the first four races of Saturday’s B.C. pick six and then include all the runners in the last two races. And then, repeat the process to give himself six tickets.

   Actually, the bettor chose Domedriver ($54.00) in the first pick six event, followed by Orientate ($7.40), Starine ($28.40) and Vindication ($10.20). For the last two races, he took every runner and produced winners High Chaparral ($3.80), and Volponi ($89.00).

   Matt Hegarty of the Daily Racing Form reported Groth saying that he had personally checked the time stamps for the telephone calls in which the pick six wagers were placed. “They were all placed beforehand,” he said.

   The time angle is what investigators are focusing on. In fact, some have indicated they believe the tickets were validated at 3:25 p.m. Central Time, or after the fourth pick six race had been run. To be valid, the tickets would have to be timed prior to 1:37 p.m., which was off-time for the first pick six race.

   If fraud is uncovered, what happens to the B.C. pick six pool?

   “That’s a good question,” stated a long-time racing executive.

   Illinois officials would not go further than to say the matter was being investigated. Similar statements were being issued by both the NTRA and the Breeders’ Cup.