Everyone involved in the scandal-wracked bet says they're eager to pay off to the 78 winners. But none of the organizations involved seems to know how to undo the Gordian knot that currently has the funds tied up.
"NTRA and Breeders Cup, working with Arlington Park, are taking all measures within their power to ensure the rightful winners of this money get it as expeditiously as possible," said NTRA spokesman Chip Tuttle.
Tuttle said NTRA is seeking a meeting with the Illinois Racing Board to determine how to proceed. Unfortunately, even if such a meeting is scheduled, it might not advance the cause very far. IRB assistant executive director Marc Laino said the board is powerless to do anything about the money until the U.S. District Court in New York authorizes its release.
The court got involved in mid-November after three men pleaded guilty to charges they illegal doctored six winning tickets on the Ultra Pick Six on the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), run Oct. 26 at Arlington Park.All the winning tickets were sold at the same Upstate New York OTB, raising immediate questions and prompted an investigation that led to the charges. As a result, the 6-of-6 winning tickets were never paid.
While all three suspects have pleaded guilty, legal experts said their convictions are not completed until they are sentenced in March and that it is unlikely the court will release the money before then.
Breeders' Cup officials argue the money that would have gone to pay the 6-of-6 winners should be distributed as quickly as possible to the holders of consolation tickets. Each of those would be worth a bit under $40,000.
"The Illinois Racing Board cannot order payment," Laino said, since the court has ordered the funds frozen. Laino said it is the IRB's position that NTRA/Breeders' Cup must petition the court to release the money.
If that is done, he said, the IRB then will consider authorizing Arlington to pay it to the consolation ticket holders.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board is Jan. 21. It could, however, scheduled an emergency meeting if needed to resolve the matter.