Arlington Park, Arlington Heights, IL, October 3, 2002

Geez. It is something about this time of year, I think. Thank God they won't be running in October next year.

Last year, the day before the Arc, someone from mutuels or AmTote [home of the WhaleOrifice(tm)] p*ssed me and a bunch of other patrons off by turning off the 3rd floor mutuel machines before the last race on Saturday had even finished, preventing anyone from running their tix thru after, or betting on some big race from Belmont that was going off right then. And mind you, this was after the same thing had happened once earlier in the meet and invoked the wrath of Jim O'Donnell of the Sun Times. So my response was to refuse to go out to AP the next day to wager on l'Arc, even though I'd been looking forward to it for weeks.

So what happens today, just a couple days before the Arc simulcast? You guessed it, something involving mutuels or AmTote that just p*ssed me off.

This one was my fault to begin with, but not after that, I don't think.

I'd made a rather large (for me) Pick 3 bet prior to the 4th. When one of my horses won the 4th, at decent odds, I pulled out my tickets to review what were winners and what were losers, and discovered, to my horror, that the Pick 3 ticket was not in my wallet. I looked for it and looked for it, but it was not there. Dagnabbit! Musta left it next to the machine.

I just could not endure the thought of some damn stooper winning $1 bajillion based on my stellar handicapping, which I was sure was going to happen, now that I had won one (1) leg of the Pick 3. So, I decided, I would put a stop to that by putting a stop on my lost ticket by talking to mutuels. After all, had not mutuels at several other tracks in several other states also gone out of their way to help me and friends in matters just like these, plus lost vouchers, in the past? So I marched up to the Information window on the main floor mainline and explained that I had lost this live Pick 3 ticket after one leg and would like to put a stop on it.

"Nothing I can do", says he.

Yes there is, says I.

"Do you have a Twin Spires Card?", says he.

No I don't, says I.

"Nothing I can do", says he.

Yes there is, says I.

"Do you have other tickets you punched in the sequence?", says he.

Yes I do, plus the voucher I was betting on, plus the number of the SAM I was using, says I, all the while thinking "now we are getting somewhere".

"Nothing I can do", says he. "You don't have the ticket".

Ah. So we weren't really getting anywhere, just making conversation.

Okay, says I. I'll just go find Terry. [Some sort of mutel supervisor at AP who has been very helpful before, one of two people involved with mutuels at AP who actually seems to care something about customer service, the other being an AmTote guy.]

At this point he yells down the line, to a ponytailed kid who works for AmTote, and tells the kid I want to put a hold on a ticket, along with a comment something to the effect of, "If he doesn't have the ticket we don't pay, right?"

I proceeded to tell the kid I didn't want a pay, but simply a hold.

Kid: "You're never going to get the money from this, you know that?"

Me: That's fine with me, I just don't want someone else to get it.

Kid: "The rich people who own this track will just get all the money, don't you know that"?

Me: I don't care. They'll get part of it, and my horsemen's purse account will get part of it. That's fine with me. I just don't want some stooper schlub getting it.

The "horsemen's purse account" business seemed to alter the kid's perception.

"Ummm. Well, there's nothing I can do about it. Someone from mutuels will have to hold that ticket."

Me: Yes, I know, that's why I was talking to him in the first place.

The mutuels guy at the Information window proceeds to kind of look off into space like me and my request don't exist, and I'm finally disgusted enough to leave and try to seek out Terry, who wasn't found. Meanwhile, I rooted hard for a longshot in the 2nd leg of my Pick3, which came in, and that stooper ticket died a horrible death.

I mean, this wasn't a huge event in the great scheme of things, but just the lying and total lack of customer concern irritated me.

Anyhow, the heck with this place and its mutuel clerks. Everyone who has been around the track for more than two days knows you can put a "hold" on a lost ticket or voucher with a small amount of effort, which unfortunately the union mutuel employees at AP don't seem willing to put in.

IRB Chairman Bookshester made a comment the other day that he couldn't understand how the IRB would force "the fans" to spend more days at the "other track" than Arlington during a year. One clue, Chairman Bookshester, as to why many of us can't wait to be there, is that they actually act like they want our business, from the top down. So once again, this year, I'm bagging the Arc simulcast in protest of the "customer service" at AP. Plus, I'm cutting back Arlington visits from two per week to just one - if that - for the rest of the season. Phooey.

A hearty "thumbs down" for this visit.