In some ways, Breeders’ Cup is just another racing weekend for Curtis Linnell. Like many observers of Thoroughbred racing, he’ll be watching the races, from home or in his office in Fair Hill, Maryland. He’ll have multiple screens and feeds around him, as will his colleague Laura Horah.
But unlike those observers, Linnell will be watching more than what happens on the racetrack.
Linnell is vice president of operations and wagering analysis for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau, which was established in 1946 as a private investigative agency to address issues of integrity and security in Thoroughbred racing. Owned by the Thoroughbred Racing Associations — which is a “commission of racetracks” — the organization’s mission is to work with racetracks “to maintain high standards, protect the legitimate business interests and integrity of the sport, and foster and maintain public confidence.”
It’s hard to talk about racing integrity and the Breeders’ Cup without recalling the Pick 6 scandal of 2002, in which tickets were altered after the fourth race, resulting in a bonanza when longshot Volponi won the Classic at odds of almost 44-1. The incident, which led to prosecution and a year in prison for its ringleader, resulted in changes to the way wagers are reported, but it alone didn’t, said Linnell, lead to greater focus on the Breeders’ Cup as an opportunity for betting shenanigans. It did, he admits, “heighten sensitivity” to the vulnerability of wagering systems.
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