07/04/2006 11:00PM

Pick three payoffs put off

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs withheld payment on three consecutive pick three wagers Tuesday after the track's tote system was unable to process the payoffs, Churchill officials said. The problem came when several horses were scratched from a pick three race that was transferred from the turf to the main track.

Redeemable wagers will be paid Friday, when Churchill reopens following two dark days, the track said late Tuesday. The races involved were races 5-6-7, 6-7-8, and 7-8-9. The common denominator in each of those sequences, the seventh race, was the one switched to the main track. A heavy downpour necessitated the switch, which the Churchill stewards announced shortly after the fifth race had been run.

According to Churchill officials, the tote system was unable to differentiate whether the late scratches meant the pick threes were to be paid as an "all" on the seventh race, or whether the pool would be divided among fully correct tickets and consolation payoffs made to those selecting two winners and one of the late scratches.

After several lengthy delays, including a 35-minute wait following the seventh race, the track announced late Tuesday that the 5-6-7 pick three will be paid as an "all" to the seventh, while the 6-7-8 and 7-8-9 pick threes will be paid only to fully correct tickets and consolations. Those payoffs were not immediately available, however, leading the track to announce that tickets would not be redeemed until the next racing day.

Churchill policy requires that the "all" option be exercised on the 5-6-7 pick three because betting had closed and one race already had been run before the switch to the main track was made. Wagering was still open, and refunds available, on the 6-7-8 and 7-8-9 sequences when the switch was announced.