07/01/2005 12:00AM

New rule for late surface changes


PLEASANTON, Calif. - Bettors of multirace wagers comprising more than four races (pick four, pick six, pick nine) will be given every horse in the race when a surface switch is made after betting closes, according to a new regulation approved by the California Horse Racing Board Thursday. The board held its June meeting at the Alameda County Fair satellite facility here.

The new regulation is meant to protect bettors who put in, say, a pick six and then see one of the races in the sequence get washed off the turf. The new regulation would effectively eliminate one of the legs of the wager. Currently, bettors in California are stuck with their original selections in such races, or the favorite if a selection is scratched. The regulation was to take effect Friday.

The board was responding to fan complaints from earlier this year when races in several Southern California pick six wagers were shifted from turf to dirt after betting had been closed.

In other business Thursday, the board instructed its executive director, Ingrid Fermin, to order state racing associations to stop sending race signals to outlets that allow so-called "player pools," which are wagers made up of contributions from many people, usually on a pick six. The state attorney general's office reported that such pools were unlawful.

The board also heard a report from Dan Fick, the Jockey Club representative of the USDA National Animal Identification System, who described the technology available for microchip identification for all horses.

The Board plans to develop a pilot program to implant microchips in horses to aid in identification. Microchips are used in 16 countries and on an experimental basis in several states, but California would become the first state to require microchip technology for identification.

The board also:

* Approved an amendment prohibiting a horse claimed in California from running in another state (except in a stakes) for 60 days after the close of the meeting from which the horse was claimed.

* Approved an amendment that allows for split samples on testing for carbon dioxide levels. The owner or trainer would be required to pay for the split sample.

* Approved applications to conduct the San Mateo County Fair meet at Bay Meadows from Aug. 10-25; the Humboldt County Fair from Aug. 11-21; and a harness meeting at Cal Expo in Sacramento from Aug. 6-Sept. 17.