10/27/2003 12:00AM

Spend $8, cross fingers, hit pick six

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ARCADIA, Calif. - The best place for a horseplayer to shoot for the moon Saturday was in a small cocktail lounge in South Dakota, hundreds of miles from the nearest major racetrack.

Rapid City is known as the gateway to Mount Rushmore, but for one bettor who wagered on the Breeders' Cup pick six, the town is the path to riches. At the only betting window inside the Time Out Lounge, a local horseplayer turned an $8 pick six play into a $2.7 million payday when his ticket was the only winner on the Breeders' Cup races at Santa Anita.

The man, whose identity was undisclosed as of Monday afternoon, was among scores of bettors drawn to picking the winners of the last six Breeders' Cup races. Bettors wagered $4,489,454 on the bet.

Going into the final race, just four live tickets remained, each keyed to a different horse - Classic favorite Medaglia d'Oro, Ten Most Wanted, Congaree, and Pleasantly Perfect, the only runner the South Dakota bettor used in the final leg. It was enough.

The winning ticket had four singles, and two races with two horses. It singled Mile winner Six Perfections ($12.60); had two in the Sprint, Cajun Beat ($47.60) and Aldebaran; singled Filly and Mare Turf winner Islington ($7.80); had two in the Juvenile, Action This Day ($55.60) and Tiger Hunt; singled Turf winner High Chaparral ($6.40), who dead-heated with Johar; and ended with Pleasantly Perfect ($30.40).

Along with his $2,687,611.60 winning payoff, the bettor also won two of the 48 consolation payoffs, each worth $18,663.80. His total haul, before taxes, was $2,724,939.20.

The winning bettor was scheduled to sign papers and make arrangement for payment Tuesday at the Time Out Lounge, a restaurant-tavern run by 76-year-old June La Croix. La Croix said she was granted a license to offer parimutuel wagering last year, one month before the 2002 Breeders' Cup. "We're sanctioned," she said. "We're legal."

Good thing. It was one year ago that an Autotote employee and two co-conspirators electronically altered a pick six ticket after four Breeders' Cup races had been run, and they ended up with all six winning tickets. Chris Harn, Derrick Davis, and Glen DaSilva wound up in prison after the scandal was uncovered.

Nervous Breeders' Cup officials entered the 2003 event confident in the integrity of the tote system.

"We went through a good vet process on this," said Ken Kirchner, senior vice president of product development for the Breeders' Cup. He said scans were performed after each leg of the pick six to identify live tickets at each stage. A preliminary review of wagering patterns at the betting window where the Rapid City horseplayer placed his bet corresponded to the winning pick six ticket.

There was further relief when it was learned that the winning pick six bet was a paper ticket - not an electronic wager - purchased from a live teller.

"Folks say the bet is too tough," said Kirchner. "This shows it is possible."

According to La Croix, the lounge owner, the winning bettor is a local man in his early 40's and may have had a partner in the bet. La Croix said the man visits the Time Out about once a month, and was one of about 50 patrons to place Breeders' Cup wagers there Saturday. She said the establishment's total handle Saturday was between $11,000 and $12,000, and included about $20 wagered on the pick six.

La Croix said the winning bettor did not watch the races at the bar, but returned later that night to cash multiple pick three tickets. "When he came in, he never told us he had the big winner, but we kind of figured it out," La Croix said Monday. "There's a lot of talk about it this morning."

Breeders' Cup officials said Monday that they hoped to arrange a conference call and photo opportunity with the winning bettor on Tuesday.

If hitting the pick six was difficult, the card also was tough for horseplayers who invested in the Breeders' Cup future bet. Three rounds of future betting were held, with four pools in each round. Six of those 12 pools were won by horses who were not among the 23 individual horses listed, making the winner "all others."

It started with the Distaff. Adoration was not listed individually in either round. "All others" paid $21.40 (for $2) in Future Pool 2 and $39.80 in Pool 6. Juvenile Fillies winner Halfbridled returned $6.80 in Pool 10, only 20 cents more than on race day.

Mile winner Six Perfections paid $43 in Pool 12. Sprint winner Cajun Beat was in the all-others field, which paid $12.40 in Pool 3 and $22.20 in Pool 7.

Filly and Mare Turf winner Islington paid $13 in Pool 11. Juvenile winner Action This Day was in the all-others field in Pool 9, returning $17.40. The dead heat in the Turf trimmed payoffs on High Chaparral ($12.60 and $8.60) and Johar ($21.40 and $19.40) in pools 4 and 8. Classic winner Pleasantly Perfect was an all-others runner in Pool 1 and returned $21.80. Listed individually in Pool 5, he returned $119.80.