01/28/2003 12:00AM

NTRA, Churchill in court for pick-six distribution


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Churchill Downs went to court on Tuesday to request that the disputed Breeders' Cup pick six payout be distributed to ticketholders with five of six winners.

The NTRA, which merged with Breeders' Cup two years ago, and Churchill Downs, the owner of Arlington Park, where the Breeders' Cup was held last year, filed a petition in United States District Court in New York, asking that the Illinois Racing Board be allowed to authorize Arlington Park to redistribute more than $3.1 million in winnings. The money has been held in an interest-bearing escrow account since the investigation was launched into the pick six last October. The money is currently frozen by court order.

In a joint statement, Breeders' Cup President D.G. Van Clief and Churchill Downs President Steve Sexton called the petition a "request for simple justice," and said the two organizations "will continue to do everything within our power to see that the winners receive their payments, with interest, as soon as possible."

Breeders' Cup officials have said that consolation ticketholders would receive approximately $39,000 in additional winnings if the payout is redistributed. The initial Breeders' Cup pick six consolation payout was $4,606.20.

Breeders' Cup officials have been frustrated by the slow pace taken by federal officials in allowing the money to be redistributed. In the statement, Breeders' Cup said the process of redistributing the money could be pushed up by "several weeks," but officials declined to speculate on Tuesday about when exactly the money could be released.

Three former Drexel University fraternity brothers - Chris Harn, a former Autotote employee; Derrick Davis; and Glen DaSilva - have entered guilty pleas in connection with the case. In the pleas, Harn and Davis gave up any claim to their winnings in the Breeders' Cup pick six, which would have been approximately $3.1 million with consolation tickets included.

Following the guilty pleas, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a claim to the money, saying it should be treated as criminal proceeds. The attorney's office has indicated to Breeders' Cup that it would transfer its claim to Arlington Park if its petition is granted.