10/20/2005 11:00PM

Woodbine to enter Belmont pools


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Canadian racetracks will be betting directly into the host pools at Belmont Park beginning Wednesday.

The development means that Canadian horseplayers will be participating in the worldwide pool for Saturday's Breeders' Cup, rather than Woodbine hosting a separate Canadian pool.

Steve Mitchell, senior vice president and chief financial officer for the Woodbine Entertainment Group, had led negotiations with New York regulators to expedite a commingling agreement and got the green light Friday morning.

"It's subject to us hearing back from our own regulators," said Mitchell, referring to the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. "We've been told that will not be an issue."

Mitchell said New York's Thoroughbred racing already was the most popular wagering product in the Toronto market.

Canadian horseplayers will benefit from New York's favorable takeouts of 14 percent on win wagering, and 17.5 percent on daily doubles, quinellas, and exactors. The New York takeouts of 25 percent on the trifecta, superfecta, pick three, and pick four and on pick-six carryover days also will apply here.

The exceptions will be the takeouts on place and show wagering, which will be 17 percent at Woodbine on place and show wagers as opposed to 14 percent in New York, and pick-six pools on non-carryover days, which are 15 percent in New York but will be 25 percent at Woodbine.

The place and show payoffs should not vary dramatically, since Canada rounds off its $1 odds to the nickel, rather than the dime New York standard.

One other regulatory wrinkle requires that the pick six be a $3 minimum wager at Woodbine, as opposed to $2 in New York.

The first Thoroughbred racetrack in the United States to offer commingled pools with Canada was Washington's Emerald Downs, which is not simulcast at Woodbine.

Woodbine customers began betting directly into the Arlington Park pools in August and continued at Hawthorne. Keeneland came on board for its current meeting.

Commingled wagering became possible when the United States eliminated its 30 percent withholding tax on bets from outside the country last year.