An irregularity discovered in "quick pick" superfectas that were wagered on the May 3 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in Northern California is being investigated by the California Horse Racing Board, the agency's executive director said May 17.
The investigation was launched after a bettor at Bay Meadows purchased 1,300 $1 quick picks for the Kentucky Derby superfecta, in which the first four finishers must be listed in exact order on the ticket. The bettor discovered that he did not have the number "20" once among the 5,200 possibilities. The race, of course, was won by Big Brown, who was the number 20.
The winning Derby superfecta combination of "20-5-16-2" paid $29,368.90 for a $1 investment.
Kirk Breed, the CHRB's executive director, said the quick pick wagering option was suspended May 4 after the discovery of the irregularity. He said agency investigators are trying to determine if Scientific Games, California's bet processing hub, "had any prior knowledge of the defect." He said the investigation is continuing.
A Scientific Games spokesman said that the malfunction has been "isolated to a software glitch in BetJet wagering terminals."
Tom Hodgkins, vice president of government and public relations for SG, added that "the last runner appears to have been excluded" from the quick pick mix.
He said he did not know how much had been wagered on quick picks through the terminals in question or whether the problem also affected other races. He said he doesn't know how many of the machines are being used in California.
"We were only informed of this yesterday afternoon," he said May 17. "We're really just at the front end of this investigation. It will be ongoing."
Breed said the quick pick option will remain inactive until Scientific Games can demonstrate that the malfunction is remedied. Hodgkins said the quick pick buttons on on BetJet teller and self-service machines are being physically removed from the wager boards.
"At this point we have nothing that says there was any impropriety," Breed said. "Our investigative unit is looking into it, as well as our auditors."
Asked if the matter was being investigated by the FBI, as initially rumored, Breed said, "Not to my knowledge."
"At some point," he added later, "we will be asking for outside assistance, yes."
Breed said that the Association of Racing Commissioners International's Integrity Services division has been notified of the issue.
"What happened is the bettor showed his trainer that the number 20 didn't show up on any of the 1,300 tickets," Breed said. "The trainer told the stewards at Bay Meadows that there is a malfunction and they informed us."
Ted Shaine, manager of the western quantum data center for Scientific Games in Sacramento, said, "I have no idea about any of that. I can't answer anything."
Centralizing bets taken from throughout the country, the facility opened in early 2007. It processed more than $19 million on Derby day last year.