Four employees of a Baltimore City auto body shop and their boss won the largest single payoff ever at a Maryland racetrack yesterday.
The five men split the $414,243.90 Double Triple pool at Pimlico after they correctly selected the first three finishers in the third and fifth races. Each of the men put up $100 and eventually collected checks worth an estimated $65,000 after 20 percent had been deducted for taxes, according to a track publicist.
One of the members of the group said he picked the numbers for the winning ticket out of a hat.
The five winners declined to give their names, but one of them talked to reporters in the track's press box over a speaker phone from Pimlico's money room. Only four of them were present at the track, he said, but all of them live in the Baltimore area, range in age from 28 to 40, are active in drag racing and came to Pimlico from work expressly to bet on the Double Triple. He declined to give the name of the body shop where they work.
The spokesman said that each of them worked independently in making selections in the third race. He said they ended up with one winning ticket, which then gave them one chance to collectively pick the first three finishers in correct order in the fifth race.
The winning numbers for the third race were 2-10-5. The race was won by 11-1 longshot Soft Ice (ridden by Tom Turner), who got the early lead and then desperately hung on in the stretch drive. Green Swallow (Albert Delgado) closed rapidly to finish second followed by Nin Two (Marco Castaneda). The latter two horses were among the race favorites.
In the fifth race, the men correctly selected 9-1-11. The winner was front-running Sister To Bea (Tim Peterson), followed by Exciting Times (Donna Burnham) and first-time starter, Markella Mou (Mario Pino). All were considered logical contenders in the 10-horse field. Two of the pre-race favorites, Angel Threads and Zola Valay, were scratched after a van bringing them from the Bowie Training Center was delayed because of a traffic accident on I-95. Each filly runs with Lasix, an approved medication, but pTC must be on the Pimlico grounds three hours prior to race time to be treated with the anti-bleeder drug. The horses arrived too late to meet the rule requirements.
The group spokesman said the men picked the three horses after randomly looking at the race selections in The Sun. He said each of them wrote down a combination and that he picked the winning one out of a baseball cap. "We picked them because of the numbers, the horses' names and the little comments," the man said.
A reliable source at the track said he stood by the group on the mezzanine level of the grandstand in the outdoor box section when they discussed making their bets. He said the group had two live tickets, instead of one, going into the fifth race, which gave them two chances to pick the correct order. He said they made the winning 9-1-11 selection after watching in-house television handicapper Doug Vair make his picks. Vair correctly picked the three horses in the race, telling his viewers to use the winner Sister To Bea (No. 9) over the 1 and 11 horses.
Whichever way the men came up with the winning combination, they went home considerably richer than when they came. The group's spokesman said he is going to pay off his bills and bank the rest of his share of the money. He said that one of the other men plans to buy a motor home.
The former high payoff at a Maryland track was $314,366 paid out at Laurel on a Double Triple ticket in 1987.