- Horse Racing - Feds enter disputed Breeders' Cup wager probe

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Friday, November 8
Feds enter disputed Breeders' Cup wager probe

NEW YORK - The FBI and federal prosecutors have joined the investigation into a suspicious Breeders' Cup bet worth $3 million.

The attorney general's office in the Southern District of New York and the FBI will work with the New York State Racing and Wagering Board and state police, U.S. Attorney James B. Comey said Friday in a statement.

The investigation expanded this week to include three former frat brothers at Drexel University in Philadelphia and two other winning wagers at race tracks in Illinois and New York before the Breeders' Cup at Illinois' Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

Racing officials have said the questionable bets were made through Catskill Off-Track Betting's touch-tone telephone betting system. They suspect the computer system that handled the bets was manipulated after most of the races to ensure winning tickets.

Two of the men -- Derrick Davis of Baltimore and Glen DaSilva of New York -- had phone accounts at Catskill OTB. A third man, Chris Harn of Newark, Del., was an employee at Autotote, a company that handles 65 percent of race bets in North America and was involved in the wagers under suspicion. Harn, who officials said had the access necessary to manipulate betting tickets, was fired last week.

Don Groth, president of the Catskill facility, said Friday that investigators were poring over the touch-tone system, which was suspended on Oct. 30. There have been no charges filed, but Groth said he expects legal action as early as next week.

During a Friday conference call to introduce steps for improve security in electronic wagering, National Thoroughbred Racing Association commissioner Tim Smith said he welcomes federal investigators.

"We will continue to cooperate fully with them,'' said Smith, "but we are not focusing solely on the events at the Breeders' Cup with the Pick Six. Our focus is on long-term integrity of the pari-mutuel system, so we're doubly anxious to cooperate with the authorities.''

To win a Pick Six, a bettor must select the winner in six races.

Davis, a computer service business owner, had the only winning Ultra Pick Six ticket for the Breeders' Cup. The $12 ticket -- the equivalent of six $2 winning tickets each worth $428,392 -- also produced 108 consolation tickets, each worth $4,606.20 for five of six winners. The cost of Davis' bets was $1,152.

While the Breeders' Cup payoff is being held up, the other two -- being called dry runs by several racing officials -- were paid off. At Balmoral on Oct. 3, a $2 winning bet on a Pick Six race was worth $1,851.20. One of the winning tickets was paid to the DaSilva's phone account at Catskill OTB, The New York Times reported Friday.

A Pick Six at Belmont on Oct. 5 had a three-day carry-over pool and totaled $1,259,009. There were more than 70 winning tickets, each worth $13,070, and eight were from DaSilva's phone account, the Times reported.

Questions about the Breeders' Cup winning bet were raised because of the unusual wager: Each Pick Six ticket was exactly the same; each had the winners of the first four races in which only one horse was selected; and long shots won two of the races. Also, the final two races had all the horses in the field as possible winners. The bets at Balmoral and Belmont were configured in a similar fashion.

Usually, bettors try to increase their chances of winning a Pick Six wager by choosing different combinations.

Among the initiatives announced by NTRA are:

  • Within 21 days, each tote company involved with any NTRA-affiliated track or off-track wagering facility must install software to scan all wagering pools involving multi-race wagers after each race.

  • Each account wagering operator authorized by any NTRA-affiliated race track must install software that will record wagers via telephone.

  • Any winning simulcast wager involving multiple-leg bets will be reviewed by the relevant racing organizations.

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