08/07/2007 11:00PM

Far East betting looks far out

Email

PHILADELPHIA - Remember the frenzy created on July 2 when the Hollywood Park pick six carryover was $3.2 million? Another $7.5 million was bet that Monday, creating an American record pool of nearly $11 million. Imagine something like that happening on a regular basis. Well, it could be reality soon.

If regulations are passed in Nevada this month, American players will have access to the massive Hong Kong pools when racing resumes at Sha Tin and Happy Valley in September. For the first time, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is going to allow betting on its signal in other countries. Eventually, it would like to get into more American locations as well as locations around the world.

They race twice a week in Hong Kong - typically Wednesdays at Happy Valley and Sundays at Sha Tin. The season lasts just 78 days. In those 78 days, the players bet nearly $8 billion. That would be about $100 million per day. Those are some seriously big pools.

They have an array of bets. But if you are a pick six player, you might want to gear up for the Triple Trio - three straight trifectas in any order. No exchanges. You bet all three races at once. Box four. Box six. Box five. Whatever. The pools get into the millions quickly. And if it carries over for a day or two, it gets into the many millions.

Obviously, there will be a learning curve for American players who want to get into action. But the good news is that the racing is very highly regulated. There are no drugs. Jockeys are monitored. Field sizes are enormous. It is so serious that they even have workout shows for players to watch.

Ken Kirchner of Falkirk International, a racing industry consulting company, was in Hong Kong in April. He reports that the past performances are perfectly understandable. Kirchner, the longtime consultant on Breeders' Cup simulcasting and wagering, also was dazzled by the entire Hong Kong Jockey Club operation. The account wagering facility at Sha Tin was something we can't even imagine here.

"There were 2,000 phone operators," Kirchner said. "It was the size of two football fields."

Hong Kong's population is approximately seven million. According to Kirchner, the Jockey Club has 1.5 million wagering account-holders. Think about that. It's like the NFL is here. It is a national obsession.

The Las Vegas Dissemination Company is the American partner with the Hong Kong Jockey Club. After getting into some of the Vegas casinos, Las Vegas Dissemination would like to offer it around the country. Nobody really knows how this will play out, but, if the July 2 Hollywood Park races are an indication of American desires to fire away at large pools, Las Vegas Dissemination might be on the cutting edge of something very big.

If this does get approved, all the exotic bets may not be offered at first, as there will be tote issues. But that will give everybody time to figure how to play the races.

I am already honing my Triple Trio skills. I just got my calculator out to go over some of the math permutations.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been rather insular through the years. That is obviously changing with this venture.

It will change again in October when Hong Kong will wager on the Breeders' Cup for the first time. The Mile and Turf will be in separate pools, but it is a start. Kirchner hopes that by next year Hong Kong will be able to commingle with American pools on all of the BC races.

The world really is getting smaller. It is not hard to envision a day when players from around the world have access to the wagering pools of American tracks on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, there is the Triple Trio to consider.