Pimlico to redeem tickets from Sunday Racing commission may probe recent track computer glitches

September 15, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

Computer and mutuels technicians toiled until early yesterday to repair a computer malfunction that prevented bettors from cashing in winning tickets for the last four races on Sunday's card at Pimlico Race Course.

The track reopens for business as usual today.

Pimlico officials have issued a list of the winning payoffs from the affected races -- Sunday's ninth through 12th. Those tickets may be redeemed starting today at Pimlico or the Laurel simulcast center.

Jim Mango, the track's general manager, said the system was repaired by 3 a.m. yesterday.

"We ended up having to manually merge the pools," Mango said. "It had to be done or else some of the tracks we commingle with couldn't" have reopened yesterday.

Pimlico exports its card to up to 12 tracks across the country and commingles the betting pools on each race at those facilities, with the main wagering pool in Baltimore.

Sunday's problem was caused by a faulty memory operating disk that malfunctioned in the pool collator, officials said. The problem became apparent after bets were taken in the ninth race, officials said. The memory disk failed to report an incoming Triple pool from a commingling site at Garden State Park in New Jersey.

After that, the collator froze and prices could not be calculated or winnings paid.

Management had contemplated canceling the rest of the races but thought up until post time before the last race that the problem could be corrected.

Then announcements were made that the track could not guarantee cashing outstanding tickets by the end of the card.

In the wake of the problem, criticism has been leveled at management for acting too slowly to communicate the situation to the fans.

"As long as the announcement was made, then bettors wagered their own risk," said John H. "Jack" Mosner Jr., chairman of the Maryland Racing Commission.

Mosner said he is considering setting up a task force to look into the problem as well as computer glitches connected with Saturday's inaugural National Pic-6.

The Pic-6, the first national electronic mass betting pool, will be offered twice more -- on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3.

"It was a technical problem on Sunday that no one could foresee, and I realize on Saturday they were working with a new system that they need to shake the bugs out of for the future," Mosner said. "But the fact is only three of the six races of the National Pic-6 were shown [on all monitors] at the track on Saturday, and two races took place that people didn't know anything about. The odds board stayed blank for a long while.

"I don't know whether any of these incidents were Pimlico's fault or not, but I do know there were a lot of disappointed fans."

Mosner added that he wants "to see what we can do in the future if something like this happens again. I do know the track will pay off on all valid tickets."

Management depicted the weekend computer problems as unusual.

But some officials in the technology end of the industry think problems will continue to occur until new equipment is perfected to deal with commingling pools from remote tracks.

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