A task force examining electronic wagering on thoroughbred races met yesterday and agreed to hire a firm that specializes in information technology security.

The task force was formed last week by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to restore confidence shaken by allegations of bet tampering related to the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup.

A Baltimore man holds the winning ticket to the Pick Six, which is worth $3.1 million. However, regulators have frozen payment while they investigate suspicious circumstances surrounding the bet, including the alleged involvement of a computer engineer who was fired last week by the company that processed the bet.

Three of the leading track owners - including Magna Entertainment Corp., which is attempting to acquire Maryland's major tracks - have also announced stepped-up security measures in their tote operations. A security audit is under way at the 19 tracks and affiliated betting operations owned by Magna, Churchill Downs Inc. and the New York Racing Association in cooperation with the three major tote companies.