Breeders' Cup Pick 6 Wagers Under Investigation

By Tom LaMarra and Eric Mitchell
Two days after the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board was investigating "unusual circumstances" related to the winning Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 wagers made Oct. 26 through Catskill Off-Track Betting Corp.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup formally requested the probe by letter from NTRA commissioner Tim Smith and Breeders' Cup president D.G. Van Clief Jr. to NYSRWB chairman Michael Hoblock.

A total of $4,646,289 was wagered on the Pick 6. There were six winning tickets, all purchased through Catskill OTB, with a payout of $428,392 each. The consolation payoff for five correct was $4,606.20.

Each of the winning tickets involved single selections for the first four Pick 6 races, followed by "all" selections for the final two races. The unusual nature of the winning wagers prompted the request for a thorough review.

The six winners were Domedriver ($54), Orientate ($7.40), Starine ($28.40), Vindication ($10.20), High Chaparral ($3.80), and Volponi ($89).

Donald Groth, president of Catskill OTB, said a customer in Maryland made the wagers via telephone. Groth said he reviewed when the bettor's call came in and when the transaction was completed, and found nothing unusual or improper.

The bets were made at 2:14 p.m. EDT, and the first leg of the Pick 6, the NetJet Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT), went off at 2:37 p.m.

"In talking to the person, it sure would surprise me if he was a part of anything other than a lucky day," Groth said. "He said he got one of his longshots from the track handicapper. This was an everyday punter who struck it rich."

Stacy Clifford, spokeswoman for the NYSRWB, said the probe began Oct. 27. She said it is board policy not to comment on a matter under review.

"Obviously, with something of this magnitude, we'll take a pretty hard look at it," Clifford said. "The board has requested the tickets be frozen until we complete our review."

Clifford said other jurisdictions and industry agencies are involved, but that is standard procedure.

Breeders' Cup officials could not be reached immediately to comment on the "unusual circumstances," or whether the wagers were in fact made past post time as alluded to in a story that appeared on the Daily Racing Form Web site.

In a prepared statement, Van Clief said: "Our obligation in this case clearly is to protect the customer and the integrity of the process. We are simply asking for a complete and rapid investigation by the proper authorities to determine the facts and to maintain confidence in all aspects of our competition."

In the statement, Breeders' Cup officials said the concerns are related to possible "electronic manipulation of wagering data" and not to the races themselves. Groth indicated nothing out of the ordinary occurred.

"We're content," Groth said of the in-house review. "The transaction met all the normal criteria. It seems (Breeders' Cup) wished the winner was in Chicago."