July 8, 2006

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Churchill Race Track

Saturday, July 8, 2006

Computers caused Pick 3 glitch

Surface change created confusion

By Jennie Rees
The Courier-Journal

Tuesday's Pick 3 snafu involving the seventh race was caused by a United Tote software problem apparently triggered when a new rule came into play for the first time, Churchill general manager Jim Gates said yesterday.

Churchill received permission last fall to change Pick 3 rules, specifically addressing the problem for when a race comes off the turf after wagering on a multi-race bet has closed.

But the situation had never occurred before the jockeys, after the fifth race, requested the seventh and ninth races come off the grass following a mid-afternoon downpour. By then, betting had closed on the Pick 3 involving races five through seven.

Under the new rule, every horse in the leg involving the surface change is considered a winner. Complicating matters were a scratch after the sixth race of a horse running in the seventh race and a scratch of a horse in the post parade for the eighth race. Those scratches resulted in consolation payoffs in the Pick 3s ending with the eighth and ninth races.

Gates said United Tote had tested the system to accommodate the rules changes and hadn't had any problems.

"…When they inputted the surface change into the system, it wanted to refund all of the wagers, which was not supposed to happen," he said. "In order to get that fixed, they had to shut down that system to make that change. That was the reason for prices not being posted until that evening after the races were over."

The ninth race was not a problem because the surface change was announced before betting closed on the Pick 3 beginning with the seventh race, he said.

Many fans were angered by having to wait until yesterday to cash, because Churchill was closed Wednesday and Thursday. Gates said those who bet at tracks or simulcast outlets that were open Wednesday could cash that day.