View From The Eighth Pole: A Cross-Country Fiasco Waiting To Happen – Horse Racing News

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Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, NY

Let me get this straight.

A gimmick bet known as the Cross Country Pick 5, combining races from two or more tracks, has been offered since 2018 by the New York Racing Association. NYRA’s website said it is the “host” of the bet and that New York rules apply.

This week, thanks to reporting by Daily Racing Form’s David Grening and followup work by Patrick Cummings of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, we found out that neither NYRA or the stewards who officiate New York racing are responsible for stopping the wagering when the first leg of the bet begins. There are three stewards at NYRA tracks, one employed by the New York State Gaming Commission, one by NYRA, and one by The Jockey Club.

The stop betting command is not done at the track where the first leg of the Cross Country Pick 5 is run, either, in the event it’s not a NYRA track. That critical job is left in the hands of an employee of the AmTote totalizator company retained by NYRA, presumably at the company’s headquarters in Hunt Valley, Md.

According to the reports, the AmTote employee failed to stop betting when the first leg of the Cross Country Pick 5 was run at Ellis Park last Saturday, July 30. In fact, it remained open for longer than it took to run that race. We don’t know why the employee did not stop wagering.

We know from Grening’s reporting that approximately $2,600 was wagered in the minute and 46 seconds that betting open following the start of the Ellis Park race. We don’t know where the bets were placed or whether there is a way to disqualify those past-posted tickets.

Payoffs on the bet were delayed for 90 minutes when somebody discovered what had happened.

But never mind. NYRA and AmTote kicked an extra $50,000 into the pool (which totaled $138,110 prior to the “supplementary” $50K), apparently to appease horseplayers who might be concerned that this kind of thing may have happened before or could happen again.

I certainly hope the New York State Gaming Commission is looking into this with the same fervor they demonstrated when a clocker changed a five-furlong workout to four furlongs to comply with the farcical rule.

Have we learned nothing from the Fix 6 scandal at the 2002 Breeders’ Cup when Autotote employees edited their tickets after four of the six pick 6 races had been run? They might have gotten away with a $3.1-million heist had the Classic winner not been a 43-1 shot, Volponi, raising suspicion among officials over the structure of the winning tickets.

NYRA has said it will put the Cross Country Pick 5 on hiatus after this weekend while they work with AmTote on ways to shut off wagering automatically, as their regular races are handled.

Are you kidding me?

If there is a problem with wagering integrity and there is no regulatory oversight for the vital function of stopping wagering at the proper time, the Cross Country Pick 5 should be suspended immedialyly.

To do less is an insult to horseplayers.

That’s my view from the eighth pole.

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