Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Derby Day wagering is normalized

Improved security set to prevent any scams

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISVILLE - Racing fans fighting those long lines to place a bet at Churchill Downs on Derby Day will have one less thing to worry about for this year's Run for the Roses.

The nation's most famous track has abandoned the early wagering cutoff implemented after last year's Breeder's Cup betting scandal. The company has reverted to the way things were before the scandal by stopping betting when the gate opens, rather than about two minutes earlier at post time.


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Tote venders processing pari-mutuel wagers have made improvements to their security systems and have reduced the time to transmit wagering data from simulcast sites to racetracks tote hubs, said John R. Long, Churchill's executive vice president and chief operations officer.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association launched a task force following the scandal, hiring former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's security-consulting firm to study the industry's wagering strengths and weaknesses. A February interim report by Giuliani Partners and the racing association said the major tote companies - United Tote, Amtote and Autotote - had installed software that was likely to deter fraud on exotic, multi-race wagers such as the Ultra Pick Six.

In a drama set to become an HBO movie, three former frat brothers from Drexel University in Philadelphia manipulated betting machines on Breeder's Cup Day to walk away with the single-biggest national horse-racing pool ever.

The scheme fell apart when a couple of long shots came in and the three conspirators ended up as the sole winners of the nearly $3 million jackpot, raising questions about how they were so lucky.

Derby at a glance

When: Saturday

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville

Post time: 6:04 p.m.

TV: NBC (Chs. 5, 22)

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