03/19/2004 1:00AM

Foreign-race bid dropped


AmericaTab, a large U.S. account-wagering operation, has withdrawn its request to the Oregon Racing Commission for approval to take bets on foreign races, citing objections from members of the racing industry, according to Oregon racing officials.

AmericaTab withdrew the request on Friday, according to Jodi Hanson, the executive director of the racing commission, which licenses several large account-wagering hubs. The request was scheduled to be heard at the commission's next meeting, on March 25.

AmericaTab had asked the commission in January to approve separate-pool wagering on both foreign and U.S. races. In February, AmericaTab amended the request to include only foreign races.

A number of horsemen's organizations, including the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, several of its affiliates, and the Thoroughbred Owners of California, had written letters to the commission objecting to the creation of the separate pools. The organizations claimed that AmericaTab did not intend to compensate foreign or domestic horsemen for the races that would be offered to the company's customers.

Earlier this month, Charlie Ruma, the president of AmericaTab, had said the company was hoping to offer its customers additional product with the foreign race signals, and claimed that U.S. racing interests would not be affected. Ruma did not return phone calls on Friday.

On March 4, the chairman of the Oregon Racing Commission, Stephen Walter, wrote a letter to three other commission members recommending that AmericaTab's request be approved under several conditions. The conditions included a "good faith attempt" to compensate foreign horsemen and racetracks for their signals.