This article appeared in the November 2010 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.
Of course, if it’s only money one seeks, without the glory of handicapping, three guys who had been fraternity brothers at Drexel College figured how to get all they wanted in 2002, in what became know as the Fix Six Scandal. One of the lads worked for Autotote, the bet-handling company that coordinated the millions of dollars in betting action taking place on the Breeders’ Cup. The ringleader, Chris Harn, was a software programmer with access to the big computer. After the first four of the Breeders’ Cup Ultra pick-6 had been run at Arlington Park, Harn slipped on the computer and changed a bet the ring had already placed to reflect the first four winners, then “wheeled” those with all eight horses in the fifth event and all 12 in the sixth — a combination of bets that meant no matter which horses won the last two Cup races, their pick-6 wagers would get the payoff.
Which would probably have worked fine, except long shot Volponi won the Classic at 43-1. Nobody in all of North America had a winning ticket except the ring, which had six of them. Each exactly alike. Each worth $500,000, totaling $3.1 million!
Not only did that raise an eyebrow with racing officials at the New York Racing Association, but it also got the press interested in who these geniuses might be who had outsmarted everyone in the Western betting world. The scheme got found out and the pari-mutuel perps all did time. Their potential “winnings” were redistributed to 78 bettors who had selected five of six winners in the pick-6. Each of those got $43,600.
Which was fair. And thank goodness no other betting coup has ever happened in the Breeders’ Cup.
Or has it?
Photo: Courtesy Breeders' Cup