11/15/2002 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Bettors caught in information traffic jam

While track officials over the past several years have been salivating as simulcasting and account-wagering handle have continued to rise, it appears they did very little, if anything at all, to upgrade their capacity to carry the increased traffic efficiently.

Doing something about the information-flow problem would have meant considering the best interests of their customers, many of whom, like myself, rely heavily on the currently posted odds when making betting decisions.

While the delayed transmission of multiple-race wagers is a huge problem that needs to be corrected for the sake of security, the much bigger problem for horseplayers is that posted odds are not reliable. If the transmission bandwidth is that inadequate, then it's probably taking minutes rather than seconds for the betting data to be sent to the host track. This means that when you're supposedly looking at one-minute-to-post odds, you're really looking at five-minutes-to-post odds.

While track and tote officials scramble to end the opportunity to cheat, I wonder if they are just as willing to correct the more mundane and much more pervasive consequence that has been hitting the pocketbook of horseplayers for years - namely, that their decisions (bets) are being based on bad information (the odds).

Tim Moore - Los Angeles

Early closing should allow for gate scratches

You play a pick three at a Churchill Downs track, using a single in the first leg, and all-all in the next two. Here you are with one minute to post, thinking that if your 6-1 single can hold off all the closers, and a couple of bombers win the next two legs - IRS, here you come.

But wait, there goes your horse running up the chute without a rider. He's a late scratch, you run up the stairs to cancel your bet, but the board says "O MIN," and thanks to Churchill, your $144 ticket is now depending on that $50,000 claimer dropping in for $15,000 today. ("All eyes on Churchill's new betting restriction," Nov. 13.)

As the post-time favorite is eased across the line, front wraps and all, you are left speechless and distraught.

The only solution to this problem will be to refund wagers on gate-scratched horses in the first leg of all pick threes, and offer consolation payouts for the second and third legs of all pick threes. Horseplayers will accept the decision to close pools early, but give us a little back in return. That's all we are asking.

Evan Nacherlilla - Miami

Front-page poster boys for new generation of fans

A few years ago the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said it wanted to attract the young, computer-savvy demographic as horse racing fans.

Mission accomplished!

After seeing the page one photographs on Nov. 14 of the three well-dressed computer-savvy young men in handcuffs ("Pick six trio surrenders"), it made me think: Maybe this wasn't what the NTRA had in mind.

Michael R. McGuire - Louisville, Ky.

Five out of six deserves a payoff now

The authorities have got their guys in this pick six mess. They know how it was done and who did it. Unfortunately, this is not the end of the scandal. This will carry on endlessly in court after court for months and maybe even years.

The Breeders' Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association acted quickly in identifying the fraudulent wager and stopping payment to the wrong people. The tote companies, who were basically the cause of this whole mess, will put a Clintonesque spin on things and come out all right. The tracks will make some cosmetic changes with the way they accept bets and will be fine also.

The only people who are getting the shaft in the deal are, as usual, the bettors. The people who are holding the 78 remaining legitimate tickets with five winners. What are they supposed to do - wait until this case goes to Judge Judy? This shouldn't happen.

The Breeders' Cup and the NTRA can do something great for racing and horseplayers everywhere: Pay off the honest winners now. Show the rest of the world that racing takes care of its own. Restore the confidence that is so badly needed for racing to continue on an upward course. Go ahead, you can do it. Make something positive out of this mess. Play Santa Claus. Be a hero.

You'll get your money back at some point even if it takes a while. Pay the winners their just due.Jack Straw - Universal City, Calif.

If these guys pulled it off, who else got wise?

The three alleged conspirators in the pick six scam are truly deserving of Darwin Awards (bestowed on individuals whose mental obtuseness qualifies them for culling from the human species) for their display of sheer stupidity.

The inane strategy of "single-single-single-single-all-all" was sure to be found out in due course - and it was.

What is most disturbing about the whole episode is the distinct possibility that if the three perpetrators were horse-betting savvy, they could have continued their scam for months and have taken millions out of the parimutuel pools.

Would a pick six strategy of "double-single-triple-single-all-all" on just one $2 ticket ever have been detected?

Further, what if the criminal troika had made dozens of legitimate (and therefore mostly losing) wagers in an effort to hide the altered ones? Would they have become handicapping legends?

The "what ifs" are are absolutely frightening. In the end, though, we must be grateful that the three fraternity boys were as unenlightened as they were.

Nevertheless, one nagging, lingering question remains and haunts so many of us who wager significantly: Were the Darwin Three preceded by savvier, more devious, less-conspicuous types who went undetected?

Kenneth C. Kush - Chicago

Guilt goes wider than three-way split

I have been handicapper for 40-plus years, as well as an owner and breeder. I have learned to live with the ups and downs of the business.

The the pick six scam, however, really bothers me. Handicappers are the fuel of our industry. They are unappreciated and under-represented in all aspects of the industry. It is time that the best interests of handicappers are placed above all others. Autotote had to know that its security system was antiquated at best.

I was appalled by the quick claims made by Donald Groth of Catskill OTB and both the president and technical director of Autotote that the winning ticket was a legitimate bet.

Their only interest was themselves. All three need to be fired just for their initial statements. The three scam suspects need to be prosecuted in a court of law, of course, but equally culpable are those who tried to sweep this incident under the carpet.

Dr. John Eaton - Atlanta

No mincing words: We were robbed

Three friends of mine and I played a $208 Ultra Pick Six ticket on Breeders' Cup Day. We still have the ticket.

The bet was fixed. We want our money back.

John Abraytis - Melrose Park, Ill.