10/02/2003 11:00PM

Past-post bets under investigation

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NEW YORK - Racing officials and regulators in New Hampshire are investigating a mutuel teller at Rockingham Park for allegedly placing and cashing bets on a race at Belmont Park after the race had already been run, state officials said Friday.

"We have been advised that there is a possibility that someone may have past-posted," said Paul Kelley, the director of the racing commission, using the term for placing bets after a race has started. "An investigation is under way, and we are working with the state attorney general." Kelley declined to comment further.

Ed Callahan, the general manager of Rockingham, would not comment beyond confirming the investigation. "I would think that in a week we will have a lot of answers, but right now we don't have any, and I can't comment," Callahan said.

If the teller was able to purchase and cash tickets after the running of the race, the scheme would have prevented legitimate winning bettors from getting the proper payoff.

The incident occurred on the 10th race at Belmont Park on Sept. 20, according to racing officials. At the start of that race, at least a dozen sites around the country, including Rockingham, were allowed to continue taking bets because of a malfunction in the electronic network that processes the wagers, the officials said.

It was unclear Friday which other sites were affected, but Bill Nader, a senior vice president for the New York Racing Association, said it involved sites principally on the Eastern seaboard. The malfunction occurred when the stewards' order to stop betting did not get through the totalizator network to a number of hubs, Nader said.

Joe Lynch, the chief of racing operations for the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, said that the racing commission was notified of the tote malfunction by Autotote, NYRA's totalizator supplier, following the Sept. 20 card. Lynch said auditors are looking over totalizator records to discover whether any suspicious bets were made.

Autotote's president, Brooks Pierce, did not return a phone call on Friday. The company does not normally comment on matters under investigation.

The Belmont race was won by the 8-5 favorite, Devils Peak, who paid $5.40. The horse was 9-5 at post time, but the odds drifted lower following the race's start. The second-place horse, Crazy Song, was 27-1 and paid $13.80 to place and $7.10 to show. The $2 exacta paid $117.50, and the trifecta paid $3,241.

The incident comes less than a year after the racing industry was shaken by the Breeders' Cup pick-six scandal, in which a totalizator company employee rigged the winning ticket by chaning the betting numbers to reflect winners after four races in the bet had already been run. Since then, the racing industry has attempted to tighten security in the totalizator network, including eliminating the ability of tellers to place or cancel tickets after races have started.

A Rockingham mutuel teller who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the teller who is being investigated bragged to co-workers about cashing thousands of dollars in wagers on the Sept. 20 race after punching in multiple tickets after the race had been run.

According to the co-worker, the teller under investigation had a reputation for stretching the rules by using a teller privilege known as the "cancel delay."

The cancel delay allows tellers to cancel tickets after the start of a race, a privilege intended to protect the teller from customers who will not or cannot pay for bets. The delay at most tracks that still use a cancel delay is five seconds.

The Thoroughbred Racing Associations, a racetrack trade group, recently asked all of its member tracks to prohibit cancel delays by Sept. 1, because the practice contributes to delays in posting final odds and because of the potential for abuse. Rockingham is not a member of the TRA.