The commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said this year's Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 -- hit for more than $2.6 million on an $8 ticket -- was legitimate and the result of a "very fortunate, skillful player."
This year's winning ticket, worth $2,687,611, was sold through a wagering outlet in Rapid City, S.D. There were 48 consolation tickets (five of six winners) each worth $18,663.
The ticket cost only $8 and had four singles: Six Perfections ($12.60) in the Mile, Islington ($7.80) in the Filly & Mare Turf, High Chaparral ($6.40) in the Turf, and Pleasantly Perfect ($30.40) in the Classic. In the Sprint, the ticket had favored Aldebaran and the winner, Cajun Beat ($47.60); in the Juvenile, the ticket had second choice Tiger Hunt and the winner, Action This Day ($55.60).
Officials said the individual played some pick threes with the same horses.
"It was carefully scrutinized," NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said. "It was a 'live' ticket as opposed to a telephone or computer wager (like last year). It was subject to progressive scanning, and the timing of the wager was such that it was made prior to the beginning of the first leg. It was judged to have been made by a very fortunate, skillful player."
The fraud associated with last year's Ultra Pick 6 apparently did little to chase away bettors. This year's Ultra Pick 6 pool was $4,489,454, down slightly from the $4,569,515 wagered last year, when insiders accessed the Catskill Off-Track Betting Corp. tote system and fashioned a ticket after races in the sequence were run.
Breeders' Cup offered a pick seven from 1991-1996, and a pick six from 1997-2003. Pick six handle peaked at $6,494,349 in 1998, and has declined each year since, though the $80,061 drop from 2002 to 2003 is the smallest to date.
Officials were hoping this year's $3-million guaranteed Ultra Pick 6 would be a success in light of last year's well-publicized incident of insider tampering. Among the measures in place to avoid a similar situation were recording systems for telephone and electronic wagers made through account-wagering services; security procedures to prevent insiders' from gaining access to the system; and progressive scanning that allows tracking of wagers through each leg of the Ultra Pick 6 sequence.
"If a ticket is changed after a race, it would be flagged and identifiable," said Kirchner, vice president of product development for the NTRA and Breeders' Cup.
Many of the security procedures were developed in light of the NTRA Wagering Technology Working Group formed in the wake of the Ultra Pick 6 fraud.