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Shenanigans in the Arlington Pools
Prices, accountability not right at Arlington
BY JIM O'DONNELL (Chicago Sun-Times)
ABIZARRE HAZE continued to envelope the parimutuel operation at Arlington Park over the weekend. And management appeared still dumbfounded and helpless as serious bettors had little idea what to expect on a race-by-race basis from procedures or final payouts.
On Saturday alone, a 10-race program produced three notable wagering conundrums that left some patrons howling in outrage.
THE FIRST CAME in the second race, when easy winner Kissin Beauty dropped from 5-2 to 9-5 just as the 4-year-old filly was extending her lead from 4-83/4 lengths down the stretch of the 61/2-furlong sprint.
A drop that significant in a Saturday win pool at Arlington requires an inordinately large amount of ''correct'' late money to be posted. The fact that the final odds posting came as the filly's victory appeared assured did nothing to diminish rampant suspicions about the integrity of the parimutuel system at the northwest suburban playpen.
Also adding to the intrigue at AP was the late pounding that came on a winner trained by Gust Zissides. The veteran chorus-liner was 1-for-77 at Arlington since 1998 entering the race. ''No one pounds a Gust Zissides horse,'' noted venerable Chicago handicapping guru Scott McMannis.
FOUR RACES LATER, just before Arlington's sixth, the track posted Pick 3 ''will pays'' on all starters in the turf mile, combining each with the winners of the fourth and fifth. Since betting on the gimmick is shut off when the gate for the fourth opens, there should be no possibility of change or confusion regarding the ''will pays.''
But when 32-1 shot Spiritual Drift won the sixth, rather than automatically posting the winning 4-6-4 Pick 3 with other prices, the track instead told patrons that the big gimmick payoff was ''pending.'' Long minutes later, a $1 price of $451.40 finally went up.
IN THE NINTH, exacta payoff screens after the race still listed the approximate mutuel for the winning combination of Lucky M and Whiskey Tango to be $45. When the official payoff went up as $31, many in the medium-sized Saturday crowd were fit to be taken to the nearest walking labyrinth.
Greatly intensifying the dilemma at Arlington is the fact that management continues to try to cavalierly ignore it. Only 50 live programs removed from the greatest betting disaster in the history of thoroughbred racing--last October's Breeders' Cup Fix Six fiasco--it is a precariously Nixonesque footing that Richard L. Duchossois and Co. are electing to attempt to navigate.
CLIFF WATCH, DAY 6: Still stuck squarely on guillotine center in the AP wagering crisis is rookie track president Cliff Goodrich, apparently Chicago racing's answer to the late Ron Ziegler. He actually has held his piece for more than a week, ever since he gave out parimutuel information he later said was incorrect about the Rainy Day Rules mystery.
That was the race on June 28 that first drew widespread public attention to the mysterious in-race odds fluctuations at Arlington. When Rainy Day Rules, a feint-hearted front-runner, drew out to a commanding five-length lead late in a 6-furlong event, odds suddenly dropped from 9-1 to 5-1.
GOODRICH LATER offered an explanation that suggested almost 94 percent of all late money posted to the win pool in the race went to Rainy Day Rules. He later tried to amend his figures down to where only 58 percent of all late money went to the unheralded horse.
On Sunday, Goodrich declined comment on rumors that he has been officially silenced by masters of Churchill Downs Inc. But he, Duchossois and director of security and facility operations Tony Petrillo reportedly had other imaging dikes to plug this weekend: Tow trucks were seen taking away cars of faithful Arlington employees who had parked in the ''wrong'' lot on Saturday.
tzieley (would rather play Hawthorne)
I went to hollypark on sunday and played a little Arlington. I can't tell you the number of times I saw horses' odds drop. I bet one race where a horse was 9-5 when he left the gate and 3-5 when he crossed the wire! What gives! Racing is the loser because I simply won't play if I don't know the odds on my horse.
That's why I play UK RACING. I lock in my price 3 minutes to the off and that is the price I'm going to get...