07/05/2007 11:00PM

Millionaires - only they didn't know it


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The $2 bettor in Jack Ford knew he had to take a stab at the pick six carryover of $3,274,505 at Hollywood Park on Monday. What he did not realize until Thursday night was that he and his daughter Lyn were the biggest winners of the largest pick six pool in North American history.

The Fords, who live in Orange County, Calif., hit the pick six twice on Monday for a pre-tax return of $1,154,368. The winning tickets, each worth $576,064, cost $2 and $4.

A retired mechanic, Jack Ford hit the pick six twice because one of his selections was a late scratch, so he added another horse at the last minute that he had unknowingly included on a previous ticket.

That "mistake" of duplicating a ticket was worth an extra $576,064.

Jack Ford also had a consolation worth $2,240, which is all he thought he had won until he and Lyn realized their good fortune on Thursday.

"He knew for 24 hours that he had something," Lyn Ford said in a telephone interview on Friday morning.

What Jack Ford knew was that he had picked at least five winners, including the winner of the last race, Extreme Notice ($39.80), the longest price in the pick six. He did not know the results of the seventh race, which was won by Desire to Excel ($13.20).

Thursday evening, Ford summoned his daughter to a computer after she returned home from working in a doctor's office and told her to write down the winning number of Monday's seventh race.

"Put it in your pocket and don't tell me what it is," Ford told Lyn.

After dinner, the two drove over to Los Alamitos racecourse, near their home, where the tickets had been purchased. Once they reached the top of the grandstand escalator, Ford asked his daughter to reveal the winning number.

"I told him, and his eyes kind of rolled," Lyn said.

The Fords attracted a bit of a crowd as they filled out tax papers for their winning tickets. They had two of the 13 winning tickets from a pool that reached a North American record of $10,870,852.

"It's weird," Lyn said of the last few days. "It doesn't seem like it's real."

Jack Ford, 68, declined to be interviewed for this article, his daughter said. Thursday, he did tell Los Alamitos publicity, "I didn't bother to check the results right away because I never expected to win with a $2 or $4 ticket."

He said he was too excited to check the race results at home himself on Thursday. "If I had known earlier that I had six of six, I would have crashed the car driving here because of the excitement," he said.

Lyn Ford, 39, said she and her father attend the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse races "a few times a month during the summer."

"We have a good time betting our two- and four-dollar tickets," she said. "We bet to win or bet an exacta, have some pizza."

Jack Ford occasionally attends Thoroughbred simulcasting during the day. If he doesn't go, he often makes selections for fun.

"It's a hobby of his to look at the races and do imaginary bets," Lyn Ford said. "Sometimes, he'll say, 'See, I'm glad I didn't bet it.'"

Thursday, Jack Ford was very glad to have made his bets.