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NTRA PLAN TO ALTER BETTING.

Byline: Kevin Modesti Staff Writer

Hollywood Park fans no longer will have until the starting gate opens to get bets down, the most fundamental of several procedure changes announced by Churchill Downs-owned racetracks as the Breeders' Cup pick-six probe intensified Friday.

Beginning Wednesday, betting will be cut off as soon as the ``minutes to post'' clock clicks to zero - which usually occurs about a minute before the horses are loaded into the gate and the race starts.

The idea is to allow wagers from on- and off-track sites to be tabulated and final odds displayed before each race, preventing the mid- and post-race odds fluctuations that give the impression insiders were entering late bets.

In April at Hollywood Park, the odds on a winning horse dropped belatedly from 9-2 to 2-5. Investigators said the drop was caused by a $118,000 bet from Maine and that the bet was, as required, placed before the race.

Despite official reassurance, such incidents created suspicions about the security of parimutuel technology - suspicions that seemed to be borne out by the Breeders' Cup pick-six allegations.

``We have a duty to our customers and those who invest in our company to institute these safeguards, given the current concerns about the tote system's security,'' Churchill Downs Inc. president and CEO Tom Meeker said Friday.

Churchill Downs, which owns six tracks and several off-track betting facilities, signed on Friday to National Thoroughbred Racing Association initiatives to require tote companies to collect betting-pool data after each race of multirace wagers such as daily doubles and pick-sixes; to record touch-tone-phone betting transactions for audit; and to make multirace bets subject to review.

Of the changes announced in the wake of the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup pick-six, the one fans are likely to notice is the betting cutoff. There goes the decades-old image of the horseplayer stuck in line at the mutuel window, squinting impatiently at a TV screen showing the runners lining up, praying one recalcitrant beast will delay the break.

The rule change means that in cases when the start is delayed, even if there is a post-time scratch, betting will not continue and fans will be unable to alter their tickets.

``That will obviously upset some people at times,'' Hollywood Park publicity director Mike Mooney said.

The change requires approval of the California Horse Racing Board.

The announcements came on the day the FBI and federal prosecutors joined the probe by the New York racing board and state police into whether a tote-company computer expert altered Breeders' Cup pick-six bets after the first four races in the sequence, allowing a Maryland man to hold the only perfect tickets and lay claim to $3.1 million in payoffs.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 9, 2002
Words:450
Previous Article:BRAGGING RIGHTS AFOOT IN GOLD CUP FINALE.
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