01/10/2003 12:00AM

Task force targets specific bets


NEW YORK - Racing officials said Friday they have established a list of pick six and pick four bets that they want to scrutinize as part of the ongoing investigation into the Breeders' Cup pick six.

The bets were almost all offered by the New York Racing Association and tracks in Southern California in 2002, the officials said.

The wagers were identified as part of a review initiated by a task force set up by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. The task force, which held a teleconference Thursday afternoon, is being assisted by a consulting firm set up by former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Ken Kirchner, a member of the task force and a vice president of Breeders' Cup, said that racing officials are collecting and looking at individual tickets on the targeted bets. The bets have to be collected from a network of betting sites and hubs across the country, Kirchner said.

"It's a very long, tedious process," Kirchner said.

Investigators are looking for individual bets that have suspicious structures or any similarities to the Breeders' Cup pick six ticket that was ultimately determined to be fraudulent.

The three men who pleaded guilty in the pick six case have admitted to altering a pick four ticket at Balmoral Park Oct. 3, a pick six ticket at Belmont Park Oct. 5, and the Breeders' Cup pick six ticket Oct. 26.

Chris Scherf, the executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association, a racetrack trade group that works closely with totalizator companies, said Friday that all but three sites in North America have been outfitted with new software that allows progressive scanning of pick four and pick six pools. The software was designed to thwart any attempt to tamper with the bets. Two of the three sites are expected to have the software installed by next week, Scherf said, and the other is awaiting commission approval.

"I'm totally confident this system would have prevented what happened with the Breeders' Cup pick six," Scherf said.