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Draws Go Electronic At Yonkers

Published: August 12, 2017 11:57 am ET

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One week ago, Yonkers Raceway began using a new electronic draw system to set post positions for its races. The new system is called eTrack and was developed by the USTA. The system takes the horses entered in each race as input and randomly assigns post positions to them with the press of a button, as Yonkers Raceway Assistant Race Secretary Bob Miecuna explains.

“With eTrack from the USTA, it’s an option you have to draw the races automatically instead of doing it by hand,” he said. “Basically, everything is set up exactly the same way you would for the regular draw. You select the horses you have for each particular race and then you push a button to draw and then the eight post positions come up with the also eligibles. It’s very simple.”

The electronic draw replaces a decades-old system of drawing post positions by hand. As Miecuna explains, the process was dated and relied heavily on human participation.

“The old process, the entry blanks were brought over to the judges for each race and the judge would select an entry blank and then a horseman would go and select a number randomly. They had pills numbered one through eight. They would go and select a pill, call out the number, they’d write it down on the blank and on the draw sheet, and continue right through, eight for each race for all twelve races.”

Miecuna, who began his role 19 years ago and handles the processing of entries, claims, and other work in the race office, noted the upgraded draw system offers two main advantages: integrity and efficiency. The new system largely removes humans from the equation and saves time.

“This does save time. The time isn’t the big thing, it’s just it’s very efficient,” he said. “Nobody can drop a pill. The only human hand is touching the button that says ‘draw.’”

Miecuna noted the new system also makes it easier for horsemen and the public to observe the draw. When pills were hand-drawn and entry blanks were pulled under the old system, it was difficult for any spectators to see which numbers and horses were being selected. The new eTrack system, however, displays its results on a large screen monitor in the race office.

“We got a large TV monitor for the judges' office so anyone who comes in can come and see it,” Miecuna said. “There’s no looking over a shoulder onto a little computer screen. We have a 42- or 44-inch that they can look at.”

Although the eTrack system has been available to the track for several months, the race office began using it to draw pari-mutuel races about a week ago. For two months leading up to the change, Miecuna and Race Secretary Steve Starr used the eTrack system to set post positions for qualifiers.

“We were practicing with that on qualifiers for about two months just to make sure that when we did go and do it live, it was a smooth transition,” Miecuna explained. “We knew it was going to work, but we wanted to make sure we could do it properly.”

The system has successfully drawn post positions for pari-mutuel races, including overnight and sire stakes fields. The only limitation of the software is exposed when complex handicaps are applied to the track’s top classes. Miecuna is optimistic a future software update will address this limitation.

“If you do make any kind of difficult handicap race, you have to draw by hand, but besides that it’s fine. You can’t assign one and two, draw three through six, and assign seven and eight. Down the road they’ll get to that.”

Yonkers Raceway races Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:10 p.m. and Sunday afternoons.

(with files from SOA of NY)


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