11/22/2002 12:00AM

Letters to the Editor

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Suggestion: Wager-free day to make a point

Correct the injustice now. Arlington Park, Breeders' Cup, and Autotote should locate the individuals who hit five of of six and pay them immediately.

These individuals should not have to wait another day for their money because of the inadequacies of Autotote and the tracks that relied on it. The truth may never come out how many other times this happened because of poor checks and balances in the software and the fact that mutuel management never checked on unusual betting patterns. They took their percentage and didn't care who won, legally or illegally.

We as gamblers should send a message. We should select a Saturday in December and not make a single wager. Let the tracks see what happens without the bettor.

Paul W. Schonour

Reading, Pa.

Catskill casting call hardly rates 'Sting' billing

Doesn't anyone connected with the Breeders' Cup pick six scandal have a clue? Obviously the alleged offending parties had little or no racetrack savvy.

And recently James Comey, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that the pick six defendants "bet that law enforcement would not catch them, but that's a bet they could not fix," ("Pick six trio surrenders," Nov. 14) and went on to compare the scam with the 1973 movie "The Sting."

How does any of this remotely resemble "The Sting?"

"The Sting" was played on a murdering, cheating, heartless gangster, who really had it coming. The characters played by Robert Redford and Paul Newman were playing on his dishonesty and greed, aside from revenge for his having killed an old mentor.

They didn't rip off the unsuspecting and innocent public as the pick-sixers did.

In "The Sting," the operators weren't nearly as greedy as these guys were. Law enforcement had precious little to do with the current offenders getting caught. It was their arrogance, ignorance, and sheer stupidity that were the primary factors.

They simply didn't know the game that they were playing well enough. That's a mistake our men in "The Sting" would never have made.

Jerry Hauck

Studio City, Calif.

Illinois move is administrative overkill

So . . . the state of Illinois has, at least temporarily, suspended pick four and pick six betting ("Some choose to ban pick six," Nov. 15).

This is the most ridiculous move anyone could imagine. What can we expect next? Banning checking accounts because a handful of people forge checks? Better yet, why not ban banks in Illinois because there are people who rob them?

If the Illinois Racing Board thinks that this is the only way to address the pick six scam, they better close the entire state down. If this is the rampant epidemic they think it is, then the villains will be scamming the Hawthorne pick three and daily double tomorrow, for sure.

E.J. Smatt

Hunt Valley, Md.

Welcome to modern times: Nothing's the same

I've had numerous thoughts on the major issues coming out of pick sixgate.

1. The investigation: So three computer geeks manipulated the pick six pool at the Breeders' Cup. Amazing. I'm sure all tote companies, offtrack betting outlets, and racing jurisdictions are happy that this is over. Or is it over? How many more white-collar criminals are out there? (And by the way, for two of these guys to surrender with cocaine in their systems just shows how little intelligence you need to embarrass an entire industry.)

2. Phone betting: A simple system of random audits should be put into place. An investigating arm of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association should place wagers in all jurisdictions where phone betting is allowed. The tracks and offtrack outlets would then be audited to see if these bets exist, verifying the time, amount, and horses wagered on. Any upstanding betting jurisdiction would welcome the ability to show horseplayers that their system is tamper-proof.

3. Closing windows early to get all the money into the pools before a race is run: I know that there are those bettors who like to bet 10 seconds before the gate opens, and I'm sure that they liked to take their shaving razors with them when they flew on an airplane. But in this day and age, just as with airport security and other routine things, we need to change our habits.

4. Banning the pick six, pick four, superfecta, etc: I find it hard to believe that Canada and Illinois have decided that three white-collar criminals are smarter than the bodies of these jurisdictions. This is stating that their systems are flawed and that they don't trust their ability to safeguard the betting public. Admitting that they don't know if bets are safe or not is insulting. Don't cut off the true betting public who enjoys these wagers - fix the problem!

I can't wait for the time when I can write a letter about horses and races instead of all this sideline action. Unfortunately, times have changed.

Rob Madison

Henderson, Nev.

Many in the flock are losing the faith

I have been a horseplayer from the time I was 10 years old, and I can't recall being more disillusioned about horse racing anymore than I am now.

I realize that the powers that be are doing everything they can, and as fast as they can, to fix the problem with the tote companies. What is sad, and also makes me mad, is the fact that someone was able steal our money to begin with. How many times has someone gotten away with this scam?

I have news for the horse racing industry: If it is starting to lose players like me, it is in serious trouble, because I am as hooked on racing as is possible.

Steve Trizis

Clearwater, Fla.

Goodbye, Oaklawn - Hello, Bally's

When is racing going to get its act together? It does no marketing to attract younger patrons. It makes no attempt to synchronize races although simulcasts are sent everywhere. Now it has destroyed bettor confidence in the very wager with the tracks' largest profit margin.

I've been going to the track for more than 30 years. I am seriously considering saving my gambling money that I used to play at the track and going to the casinos.

Chet Stuart

Bryant, Ark.

Information managers a low-tech crew

As an information technology manager for more than 30 years, I find it obvious that the IT expertise in all facets of the racing industry has been subpar. It is usually run by managers who couldn't hack it in the real corporate world.

The wagering scam was only an accident waiting to happen.Jay W. Lord

Nottingham, Pa.

No piece of his bankroll without peace of mind

I'm not betting another nickel at any track until they convince me that they are no longer vulnerable to what happened on Breeders' Cup Day, and that pools are reasonably secure in other respects.

Russell C. McCandless

Minneapolis