$3M Baltimore payout scrutinized

N.Y. board investigates winning Breeders' pick

By Tom Keyser

Sun Staff

October 30, 2002


The investigation into a Baltimore man's horse racing wager over the weekend that produced a potential $3 million payout continued yesterday with no resolution in sight.

"We're going to let this investigation run its course," said Stacy Clifford, spokeswoman for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board. "We're going to look at this thoroughly."

The board is investigating the suspicious nature of bets made Saturday by Derrick Davis, 29, of Baltimore, through a New York telephone-betting company. Davis wagered $1,152 on the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick Six, which required bettors to select the winner of six consecutive Breeders' Cup races at Arlington Park near Chicago.

Davis was the lone bettor to select the winners, three of which were long shots. His winning tickets totaled $3,067,821.60.

Through relatives in Baltimore, Davis declined requests for interviews with The Sun. However, he was quoted in a story on the Web site of Thoroughbred Times, a trade journal, as saying: "I didn't do anything wrong. I don't want any attention."

Davis' wagers drew attention because they were unorthodox and produced astronomical payoffs. He selected the winners of the first four races by selecting only a single horse per race. Then he selected "all" in each of the final two races, meaning he bet every horse.

That raised suspicions that he knew the outcome of the first four races before betting or somehow changed his bet.

Don Groth, president of Catskill Off-Track Betting Corporation, the company that took Davis' bet, said he believes nothing improper occurred. He said Davis placed his bets by telephone at 2:13 and 2:14 p.m., well before the 2:37 p.m. post time for the first Pick Six race.

"We've found nothing to indicate that this was anything but a legitimate wager by a guy who got very lucky," Groth said.

He pointed out that Davis made another wager, equally unusual. Davis bet an additional $364 on the Ultra Pick Six, selecting every horse in the first two races and one horse in each of the final four. Davis lost that bet, Groth said.

Payment on the winning Ultra Pick Six tickets is being withheld, pending the outcome of the investigation. Clifford would not elaborate on New York's investigation, but one of its focuses is whether someone breached computer security.

Davis reportedly operates a computer repair and installation business. He was quoted by the Thoroughbred Times as saying: "I do computer work, but I'm not a hacker."

Possibly complicating the matter is that Davis' telephone bet from Maryland was apparently illegal, even though that law is not widely known. Maryland law says that telephone-account wagering can take place only through state-licensed racetracks or entities operating on behalf of the racetracks.

The only telephone-betting entity operating on behalf of Maryland racetracks is the Oregon-based Television Games Network. Lou Ulman, chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission, said the law has generated no prosecutions.

Ulman, a lawyer, said he didn't think the state could stop Davis from collecting his winnings.

Sun staff writer Lem Satterfield contributed to this article.

Bet breakdown

The Ultra Pick Six required bettors to select the winners of six consecutive races at Saturday's Breeders' Cup:

Race, Winner, Win payoff
Mile, Domedriver, $54.00
Sprint, Orientate, $7.40
Filly and Mare Turf, Starine, $28.40
Juvenile, Vindication, $10.20
Turf, High Chapparal, $3.80
Classic, Volponi, $89.00

Derrick Davis, of Baltimore, the only bettor to win the Ultra Pick Six, selected the winners in the first four races, then selected "all" in the Turf and Classic, meaning he bet every horse in both races. Cost of wager: $1,152. Payout: $2,570,352. Davis also held 108 consolation tickets with five of the six winners, worth $497,469.60.

Total payout: $3,067,821.60.