Internet Shuts Out D.C. Horseplayers

By John Scheinman
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, September 30, 2007

As of Wednesday, horseplayers in Washington no longer were allowed to place bets via the Internet through advanced deposit wagering accounts. While no apparent law, federal or city, has been passed preventing the betting, advance account wagering company Youbet.com shut down on its customers in the middle of the opening-day card of the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meet, posting a note on its Web site saying District residents are no longer eligible to wager, according to Washington-based customers of the site.

Other advance account wagering companies also signed off.

TrackNet Media, an online joint venture between Magna Entertainment, which owns Laurel Park and Pimlico, and Churchill Downs Inc., does not operate in Washington.

Jeff True, president of United Tote, a manufacturing and operating division of Youbet.com, said he was unaware of the cutoff of wagering in Washington but pointed to a similar shutdown that went into effect Sept. 19 in Arizona because of a new state law that made it illegal to wager on horse racing anywhere in the state except at a racetrack or off-track betting site.

Youbet.com also faces a lawsuit filed last week by Colonial Downs and horsemen in Virginia for operating in the state and taking wagers on Colonial races without a license.

True referred questions about wagering in Washington to Youbet.com staff lawyer Dan Perini, who could not be reached to comment.

Maryland Jockey Club President Lou Raffetto said Youbet.com has not operated in Maryland since May 1, when its contract expired. Maryland bettors are able to bet via TrackNet Media Web sites, but cannot access certain tracks, such as Belmont Park, which are under contract with Youbet.com and TVG, another site.

Richard Prosten, a Youbet.com customer in Northwest Washington, said when he called to complain to Youbet.com about being shut down, he was routed to a representative in the Netherlands Antilles, where the company is based, but was unable to get any information.

"I was startled," Prosten said when the message flashed across his computer screen saying he could no longer wager on races from Washington. "I gaped at it."

Racing Notes: The regal bloodlines passing through the horses owned and bred by Baltimore philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff continued to pay dividends yesterday as 2-year-old chestnut filly Hartigan moved to the turf for the first time in three starts and won the $45,000 Gin Talking stakes for Maryland-bred fillies at Laurel Park.

Small trained Hartigan's sire, Include, and grandson, Broad Brush, both top handicap horses, as well as the dam and grand dam.

Ridden by jockey Luis Garcia, Hartigan won the six-furlong grass race in a fast 1 minute 8.94 seconds by a neck over Kosmo's Buddy.

Hartigan finished first and second in her first two tries on dirt before the Gin Talking, and Small sees her future on that surface.

"It looked like an allowance race," Small said of the quality of the field. "This is just a Maryland-bred race. But now she's a stakes winner. In the Army, this is called a target of opportunity."

In the $45,000 Oliver Twist stakes, the companion race for 2-year-old colts, Casanova Jack, trained by Carlos Garcia, led the entire way and surged in the stretch to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

Ridden by Horacio Karamanos, the 2-year-old son of Not for Love, won in 1:08.76.

Harold Greenberg, the 93-year-old owner-breeder of Casanova Jack, said he was looking forward to running the colt back in the Maryland Million Nursery on Oct. 13 . . . Hard Spun got his revenge on Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense yesterday, receiving a perfectly paced ride by jockey Mario Pi¿o to lead the entire way and win the Grade II $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park.

Pi¿o controlled the pace of the 1 1/8 -mile race on the artificial Polytrack surface, and while Street Sense stalked Hard Spun, he could not go by and finished second. The winning time was 1:48.48. Both horses are being pointed toward the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park.


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