05/25/2012 11:52AM

Thistledown jockeys, trainers cleared of wrongdoing in betting investigation

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An investigation into a series of highly unusual win bets placed on the fifth race at Thistledown in Ohio on Monday has not turned up any evidence that any participants in the race had any connections to the bettors, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation.

The bets have been a source of speculation since shortly after the race was declared official following a short delay to verify that the bets were legitimate. Investigators have been unable to determine why the bettors employed the strategy they did, but there is no indication that any trainer or jockey in the race had knowledge of the bets.

“Our biggest concern is the race itself and whether the betting information is showing us whether anything was going on with the race and how it was run,” said an official involved in the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “So far, that is not the case. And really, that’s the first and last issue.”

In the race, a bettor or bettors placed a total of $90,000 in win bets on every other horse in the seven-horse field but the 1-5 favorite, Eye Look the Part. The bets caused the odds on Eye Look the Part to balloon to 14-1 before the horse was targeted by a robotic computerized wagering program that placed an $8,359 win bet on the horse just prior to post, driving the horse’s odds down to 5.90-to-1.

Eye Look the Part won the race by 16 1/2 lengths and paid $12.80 to win. Because of the $15,000 win bets on the other horses in the field, he was the longest shot on the board despite being the prohibitive morning-line favorite. The total mutuel pool for the race was $128,010, whereas a typical mutuel pool at Thistledown is $10,000.

Investigators have said that they have verified that all of the bets in the race were transmitted prior to the race going off.

The bets originated from two internet account-wagering sites, betamerica.com, based in North Dakota, and link2bet.com, based on the Isle of Man. The accounts were suspended after an investigation was launched into the wagers.

However, the accounts were not shut down in time for the bettors to attempt another strange series of bets in the eighth race at Thistledown, investigators said. In that race, which was won by the third choice, the mutuel pool was $60,530, but investigators said that the final size of the pool was lower than the size of the pool prior to the last odds cycle because of a flurry of late cancellations that remain under investigation.