10/26/2004 11:00PM

Bill paves way for foreign wagering


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Woodbine will once again host the separate Canadian pools for Saturday's Breeders' Cup card at Lone Star Park, including a pick six with a mandatory payout.

It is highly probable, though, that well before next year's Breeders' Cup, Canadian horseplayers will be wagering directly into the pool of their choice south of the border.

A tax bill signed recently by President George W. Bush included a provision eliminating a 30-percent tax on foreign parimutuel wagers made into U.S. commingled pools. That tax had been one of the major obstacles preventing players in foreign countries from participating in the U.S. pools.

Woodbine will be meeting with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, which regulates wagering in the country, on Nov. 17 to begin discussions on opening up the new frontier.

"We're busy working on some different business models, which would at least give us a sense as to the financial viability," said Steve Mitchell, vice-president, wagering operations, for the Woodbine Entertainment Group. "It appears, obviously, to be a very major issue for racing in Canada, both in terms of opportunities as well as potential costs. Certainly, just from the pool size aspect, it's absolutely something that we need."

The change promises to be a complicated process, Mitchell said.

There are differences in the rules of racing. Some U.S. jurisdictions allow horses to run for purse money only in the event of late scratches involving an entry. There is no such policy in Canada.

There also are differences in how show payoffs are calculated, how breakage is dealt with, and how the unusual totals created by the conversion rate will be assimilated by some U.S. pools.

"There are a lot of hurdles to overcome on the road," said Mitchell.

Eleven races on Cup Day

Woodbine will offer a live program of 11 races here Saturday, with first post set for 11:39 a.m. The last race is scheduled to go off at 5:12 p.m.

The Breeders' Cup card simulcast from Lone Star begins here at 12:40 p.m. and concludes with the last of 12 races at 7:15 p.m.

The first of the Breeders' Cup events, the Distaff, is scheduled to go here at 1:20 p.m. and the last, the Classic, at 5:35 p.m.

Rolling pick threes will be offered here on the Lone Star program, and daily doubles will be offered on the first two and last two races. There also will be two Win 4's, starting with the second and sixth races. The pick six will be on races 4 through 9.

Woodbine will also offer simulcast wagering on the five-race program from Aqueduct, which begins at 11 a.m.; on the four-race card from Keeneland, which begins at noon; and the full card from Calder, also starting at noon.

Full-card wagering on Santa Anita begins here at 12:30 p.m. and resumes with the third race at approximately 6:05 p.m. following the conclusion of the Breeders' Cup events

The full card from Hastings will also be offered, beginning at 3:33 p.m.

Higher World part of local brigade

Ontario will have just three representatives in the Breeders' Cup events, with Higher World going in the Juvenile Fillies, Soaring Free in the Mile, and Strut the Stage in the Turf.

Royal Regalia, who was based at Fort Erie with trainer Justin Nixon this year, was the first alternate for the Mile and did not make the lineup.

Higher World, trained by Mark Casse, will be ridden by Patrick Husbands and is 30-1 on the morning line.

Soaring Free, winner of the Atto Mile for Sam-Son Farm and trainer Mark Frostad, will have Todd Kabel in the irons and will open at 20-1.

Strut the Stage also races for Sam-Son and Frostad and has been pegged at 20-1. Corey Nakatani has the mount.

Advance wagering available

Advance wagering on Saturday's Breeders' Cup and Woodbine cards will be available at Woodbine, Mohawk, Greenwood, and Champions Teletheatres, and also to online and telephone account customers.

The advance wagering will open Friday at 3 p.m. and continue until the close of the business day. At sites that host Hong Kong racing and for the online and phone customers, that could be as late as 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Advance wagering is scheduled to reopen at all venues shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Chief Bearhart lone stakes on card

The $97,000 Chief Bearhart, the only stakes race scheduled here Saturday, is not part of the guaranteed stakes program but should attract enough entrants to make the card.

The Chief Bearhart, a 1 1/4-mile turf race for 3-year-olds and upward, attracted 19 nominees.

Sunday's feature will be the $125,000 Bunty Lawless Stakes, a one-mile turf race for Ontario-sired 3-year-olds and upward.