Pick Six Fiasco Shakes Up The Sport

You have probably heard about the recent attempted fixing of the Breeders Cup Day Ultra Pick Six wager which has really shaken up bettors lately. But if you haven't, then here's the basic breakdown of their scheme.

A friend of one of the software workers inside Autote made a pick six wager on breeders cup day using only one horse in each of the first four races, then used the all/all combination in the remaining 2 legs. Then his friend working inside the company was able to alter the horses used after the fourth race had been run. Changing the losing horses he selected to winning ones and therefore ensuring a winning ticket by using all/all in the last 2 legs.

He was able to do this because of a flaw in the way that data is transmitted in multi race bets such as the pick 4 and pick 6. In the case of the pick six the actual numbers used in the bet are not transmitted until after the fourth leg in the sequence has been run. Thus allowing for someone with access to computer systems storing tickets to change wagers before being transmitted to the host pool.

They may have gotten away with it too if they hadn't been so greedy. By using only one horse in the first four legs they drew attention to the wager from betting experts and mutual managers. The fact that they bet in a $12 dollar denomination also drew attention. The final thing that did them in was that they had the only winning ticket in the wager and that in itself will draw attention to you, especially if you have it more than once.

If they in theory had used multiple horses in the first three legs and bet a smaller dollar amount the bet would probably have looked much more legitimate and they would more than likely be heading for the Bahamas right now instead of 15 to 20 in the pen. But hind sight is 20/20.

Now because of what happened many bets are being called into question and so is the integrity of the betting network itself. Technology is great allowing betting on lots of different tracks and allowing bettors to wager into commingled pools. But we need assurance from racetracks and law enforcement that these bets are safe from tampering.

I work hard for my money and when I make a bet at the track I want to make sure that I have as good a chance as the next guy of winning. Not that someone has the ability to affect wagers after they are made. We have enough worry in this game about race fixing and unscrupulous jockeys and trainers affecting races. We don't need more worries that our bets aren't safe from tampering.

Dealing With The Problem

Some of the tracks have been instituting 0 minute post time lockouts for wagers and some states like Illinois have outright banned the pick six and pick four for now. These seem like drastic measures that cause me even more worry about the safety of networks. There is to me obvious panic from racing supervisors right now. By these actions they are telling me that they feel that their betting networks are not currently safe. The good news is that they are bringing in top computer security people to work on these problems. So in the future we should see much tighter security around electronic wagers. So I guess in a weird way the attempted theft of $3 million dollars on breeders cup day has brought about a positive change to the horse racing industry.

- Runhorse.com 11-14-'02

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