09/24/2002 11:00PM

Miss Houdini out before bet


Breeders' Cup future betting was struck another blow on Wednesday when the organization learned that one of the top betting choices in last weekend's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies future wager had been taken out of training for the rest of the year three weeks before the bet opened.

Miss Houdini, 15-1 at the close of betting on Sunday and the fourth choice in the pool, was found to have a ruptured tendon just after winning the Del Mar Debutante on Aug. 31, according to her trainer, Warren Stute. Miss Houdini has been recuperating at a farm in California since the injury was diagnosed, and she will likely be retired, Stute said.

The injury had not been previously reported by any media source. Breeders' Cup did not find out about the injury until Miss Houdini's owner, Bo Hirsch, called on Tuesday afternoon to relay the news. Betting on the Juvenile Fillies closed on Sunday night.

Under the future bet rules, the bettors who wagered $2,578 on Miss Houdini will not be eligible for a refund. Miss Houdini was one of 23 horses for the Juvenile Fillies pool selected by a five-person committee put together by Breeders' Cup and Daily Racing Form.

The injury follows by three weeks another high-profile defection that left some bettors fuming. At the beginning of September, Godolphin Racing, the owners of Breeders' Cup Classic favorite Street Cry, announced the horse's retirement just 14 hours after betting in the Classic future wager closed. Street Cry was 6-1.

Ken Kirchner, Breeders' Cup's vice president of product development, said that the organization is now "seriously reconsidering" how horses are selected for the pool.

"Obviously, we have to revisit the whole issue," Kirchner said. "That may mean calling up every owner and trainer; that may be the next step."

Breeders' Cup has been reluctant to involve horsemen in the selection process because of the potential for trainers and owners to release misinformation. Officials also fear that bettors will blame Breeders' Cup for any change in a horse's plans. Instead, Kirchner has been urging owners and trainers to contact Breeders' Cup if any horse has been pulled out of consideration for the Cup.

Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form's national handicapper and a member of the selection committee, said the committee was not aware of any reports about Miss Houdini's injury before the future wager.