07/30/2007 2:56AM

Fix My Computer, Win Fabulous Prizes

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--The first commenter to post a successful solution for an incredibly vexing and annoying online snag I'm having wins two Saratoga box seats for a selected weekday afternoon at Saratoga. No kidding. This is driving me nuts.

There's a pretty reliable, usually fast (54 Mbps) wireless network in the house where I'm staying and things like this Typepad blog and the DRF news and charts and dozens of websites load instantaneously. But for the life of me, I can't get two of the simplest and most popular sites in the world -- Google or Gmail -- to come up at all on either of the two laptops here, a four-year-old Dell Inspiron and a brand new loaded Dell XPS. Whether I click on the bookmarks in my IE Favorites menu, or type the addresses into the address bar, the progress bar moves like molasses and after 60 seconds gives up entirely. Same thing happens in both IE and Netscape. This has been going on since I got here and I have tinkered with every setting, tried temporarily disabling all firewalls, and everything else I can think of with no success. Yet houseguests with lesser machines have gotten the two sites to come up instantaneously. Both laptops have repeatedly scanned as virus-free and do everything else they're supposed to do perfectly. I need to Google things (Windows Live Search is awful) and I need to get into a Gmail account.

Help.

Contest rules: 1. Winner will be determined at the sole discretion of the contest operator. 2. No entry fee required. 3. Void where prohibited. 4. Date for use of two (2) DRF box seats on one weekday during the 2007 meeting to be mutually agreed upon by contest operator and contest winner. Some dates blacked out. 6. If contest winner is a minor, must be accompanied by parent or guardian. 7. If you slip and fall or anything else bad happens to you during your day in the box, it's not my fault and you can't sue me or DRF. (And NYRA's still in bankruptcy.) 8. If contest winner is unable to attend Saratoga during the meeting, another prize of equal or lesser value will be substituted. I'll make it something good.

--Commenter Bridgejumper asked about the show prices in the Jim Dandy, where C P West paid $3.40 and Sightseeing paid $3.00 despite the victory of Street Sense and a reported minus pool on him. This is a function of the net-pool pricing method that NYRA and many other tracks instituted in the last year. Net-pool pricing is used primarily to accomodate different takeout and breakage rates from simulcast outlets, but has some implications for show prices in general and especially in races with minus pools. According to an explanation found verbatim on several racetrack sites:

"[T]he Net-Pool model distributes the same amount of winnings slightly differently. This is a function of allocating the profits to the different winners based on their NET winnings rather than their GROSS winnings...the net effect, in these cases, is that the favorites will pay a little less, while long shots will pay a little more...Fans will notice that show pools with a heavy favorite that you would expect to return $2.10 for all three runners, may now pay significantly higher on the two non-favorite horses. This is because even though the payout on the favorite is reduced to a number even farther below the minimum $2.10 payout, it still must return $2.10. But the other horses are not participating in the minus pool as they were under the Standard Pricing model."

--I've been through the Monday pick six (with $92k carryover) sequence once and it ain't pretty or easy. You start off with a turf sprint for 2-year-old fillies where 9 of the 12 are first-time starters, proceed through three full allowance fields, hit a tricky Amsterdam Stakes as the feature and finish up with an unbelievably competitive N3L turf race for $35k claimers.

Perhaps it will all look clearer in the morning.