08/01/2013 1:50PM

NYRA to have pick five this fall with 15-percent takeout


The New York Racing Association plans to launch a new pick five wager with a 15-percent takeout at the start of the Belmont fall meet on Sept. 7, an association vice president said on Thursday.

The launch of the wager has been highly anticipated by many handicappers who have urged NYRA to place a pick five on the menu as a lower-cost alternative to the pick 6. The pick five will have a 50-cent minimum, whereas the pick six has a $2 minimum.

NYRA received conditional approval on Thursday to offer the wager as of the start of the Belmont meet from the New York State Gaming Commission. The commission said that it could not authorize the immediate approval of the bet until NYRA had conducted a “tote test” to ensure that its bet-processing provider could properly handle the bet and its payoffs, a requirement under state law for any new parimutuel wager, commission officials said.

David O’Rourke, NYRA’s vice president of corporate development, said after the meeting that NYRA was not prepared to launch the bet at the association’s ongoing Saratoga meet regardless of whether the commission granted immediate approval. He said that NYRA’s contract with its current bet-processing supplier, United Tote, expires at the end of the Saratoga meet, and that the addition of the wager would require some “minor programming” changes to the company’s betting software.

O’Rourke also said that NYRA wanted additional time to market the pick five to racing fans and other racetracks before offering the bet to ensure that the bet attracted additional handle rather than cannibalize the existing pools for the pick four and pick six.

“This is a perfect amount of lead time for that,” O’Rourke said.

NYRA first asked the commission for approval of the bet in late May.

Also at a commission meeting on Thursday, regulators voted unanimously to make permanent a number of medication-related rules that have been in place in New York on an emergency basis since late last year.

The rules prohibit the administration of corticosteroids in any form other than an injection into a joint within five days of a race, and prohibit joint injections of the drugs within seven days of a race. Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs. The rules also prohibit the use of clenbuterol, a bronchial dilator, within 14 days of a race.

Another rule that was made permanent allows an owner to void a claim if a horse is vanned off the track. The rule also voids all claims for a horse who dies on the track.