07/18/2006 11:00PM

Five-stakes card goes to extremes

Email

MIAMI - One Off, second in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano Handicap earlier this season, will top a field of nine in Saturday's inaugural running of the $250,000 Bob Umphrey Turf Marathon Handicap, a two-mile grass race named after Calder's late racing secretary.

The Bob Umphrey is one of five stakes on Saturday's Extreme Day card at Calder, which also includes the $50,000 King George's Wrong Way Stakes, a 1 3/8-mile race to be run clockwise on the turf course. The 14-race card also features the return of Caller One for the third year in a row in the two-furlong Rocket Man Stakes and the "world's fastest daily double" - two races to be run simultaneously, a one-mile race on the turf and a six-furlong race on dirt.

One Off finished a fast-closing length behind T. H. Approval in the 1 3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita. Trained by Neil Drysdale, One Off will carry high weight of 116 pounds, one more than locally based Magic Mecke.

Tricky camera work for simulcast crew

Extreme Day has turned into an extreme technical nightmare for Scott McDermott, unit manager at Calder for Churchill Downs Simulcast Productions, and his crew, especially the logistics of the world's fastest daily double.

McDermott is in charge of disseminating up-to-date win odds as well as probable exacta and daily double payoffs throughout the plant and to simulcast outlets for both races. In addition, McDermott and his crew of technicians and cameramen must film the two races simultaneously for the betting public and the track stewards.

"We've spent months and months of preparation time writing programs and making practice runs with our systems and cameramen, just to see if this thing would work," said McDermott.

Odds and probable payoffs for the daily double and exactas will not be displayed on the tote board, McDermott said. Instead, they will be displayed on a split screen on televisions.

The real fun for McDermott and his crew will come once the two races get under way.

"We'll have a pan shot on top and a pan shot on the bottom of the television screens during both races," McDermott explained. "The biggest challenge is handling replays for the stewards. That took a lot of setting up and practice, timing the switching of the cameras during the races. We'll employ our five regular cameras plus two low-level shots, one for the turf and one for the main track.

"It will be tricky, but at the moment I think we've got everything under control. It's all been a lot of work for what will end up being about two minutes of excitement."