AmTote computer links bettors to variety of tracks

September 20, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

A new term -- the pool collator -- has been added to racing jargon.

The computer console is the new piece of equipment designed and marketed by AmTote International in Hunt Valley that makes it possible for a track such as Pimlico to take in bets over high-speed telephone lines from racing centers all over the country.

It's called commingling, and it has drastically changed the way racing operates in just the last few months. Some tracks, such as Arlington International Racecourse near Chicago or the Hinsdale dog track in New Hampshire, take bets on up to 15 different racing cards, said AmTote's Jim Clark, longtime customer relations representative for the Mid-Atlantic region.

"They are the simulcasting capitals of America," Clark said.

Pimlico exports its daily cards to up to 12 other tracks and then computes the payoffs from a central pool in Baltimore.

The engineer who designed Amtote's collator is Scott Bartholomew, 30, a New Jersey native who lives in Catonsville. Bartholomew has worked at AmTote ever since he graduated from Loyola College with a degree in computer science eight years ago.

It took Bartholomew 4-6 months to design the component, which he said is based on simple personal computer hardware. His previous experience had been in designing lottery systems, but he was assigned the project after AmTote's chief engineer, John Doyle, saw the need for a multi-pool computer in racing.

The collator debuted at Santa Anita 11 months ago, Bartholomew said. Since then it has been installed at between 15 and 20 locations and has handled more than $2 billion in bets from horse, jai alai and dog installations, he said.

AmTote installed its collator at Pimlico only a few days before the first National Pic-6 was initiated last week.

Bartholomew said there have been few major glitches connected with the product, so he was particularly distressed last Sunday when the system failed "in my own backyard."

He said the situation was "completely avoidable."

The system received the wrong message after a triple pool failed to kick in from Garden State Park. The problem was not readily perceived by the technician on duty and was not picked up by Bartholowmew himself until 2:30 a.m. Monday. He had been overseeing operations at a Florida dog track on Sunday afternoon and did not arrive at Pimlico until 1 a.m. Monday.

John H. (Jack) Mosner Jr., Maryland Racing Commission chairman, received complaints from fans about the malfunction. He studied the system last week and came away so impressed that he said yesterday he now feels "the problem is under control."

Very religious horses

There is great piece in the October issue of Vanity Fair about the exploits of Henryk de Kwiatkowski, savior of Calumet Farm and racing bon vivant.

The article was written by Bob Colacello, chronicler of the life and times of Andy Warhol. It included one glaring error in a quote from de Kwiatkowski saying that the Queen of England "loves nothing more than to see a well-confirmed horse."

Of course, the term should be "well-conformed" unless the Queen's animals are being blessed by the Church of England.

Hands-on winner

When Hopashore won his first start Sept. 5 at Timonium, his owner Bob Gayhart could say he has supervised every aspect of the horse's career from conception to leading the colt to the paddock for his first race.

Gayhart, a former stud groom at Sagamore Farm, handled the breeding duties when the former Sagamore stallion Val Reef covered his mare, Local Colors.

Gayhart, who works for trainer Bernie Bond and rubs stakes star Gala Spinaway, keeps the horse with Bond's string at Pimlico.

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