Pimlico has new infield board in tote

Lumitron screen also planned for Laurel

April 04, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Patrons attending Pimlico's opening racing card yesterday found a longtime staple missing - the infield's electronic tote board.

In its stead behind the finish line stood the Lumitron, a 26-by-32-foot television screen that is designed to serve all the functions of the tote, which normally carries such information as odds, money bet in particular wagering pools and running times.

A portion of the old board is still in place because of the necessity to use its electrical power, but eventually the entire structure will go.

"The new screen will be used here and at Laurel," said Lou Raffetto Jr., the chief operating officer of the Maryland Jockey Club. "We're still tweaking it, trying to work on what goes on the screen when and the best times to show it. It has a beautiful picture."

The disadvantage is that not all the information is available simultaneously, and bettors will have to watch closely to capture what they are looking for. But there are always the monitors indoors throughout the plant.

Information will not be identical to that shown on the TVs.

"It's true that you can't get all the pools for a while, and we're trying to determine at what intervals to show them," said Raffetto. "I don't think players need to see the pools all the time. And, I think in this day and age most people prefer to watch the TVs."

In effect, what has happened is that players relying on the giant outside screen are receiving another simulcast - from the home track. Raffetto said any large bets - early or late - will be reflected in the odds on the big board and can be seen intermittently when the pools are flashed.

For longtime horse players, an adjustment will be required, especially when the weather turns warm and many are cavorting on the grandstand apron.

Bleachers to accommodate about 600 people and additional large-screen boards erected during Preakness week will enable customers at other ends of the plant to see the information.

"There will probably be a little landscaping go in there where the toteboard is now," said track superintendent John Passero. "Since any information can be put into the new boards, the old totes are getting to be a thing of the past."

NOTE: Barn L, a structure on the grandstand side more than 100 years old, was razed yesterday. The move will provide more parking space.

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