6. The Judge Closes Betting with a Bell

Sitting high above the track in a small room atop the grandstand the presiding judge has an amazing view of the entire track. George, who was officiating the races during our visit, said he can also see Manhattan from the judge’s box on a clear night. The judge has many responsibilities throughout and after the race, but before it even starts he has to close the betting. This is done by pushing a doorbell-like button on top of his desk. Once that button is pressed no more bets can be made either in-person with a clerk, online, or through an electronic kiosk.

The judge is surrounded by monitors with replay capabilities and multiple camera angles of the track so he can keep an eye on everything that is going on and re-watch certain moments of the race if needed. In the room next door to the judge is the photo-finish room and there was a photo-finish while we were visiting the box! When that happens, the judge examines the photo and determines the winner. If there is a nose-to-nose-tie it is called a “dead heat” and the horses split the purse, or prize. The judge is also responsible for drawing the horses’ post positions, or where they start on the track. These positions are assigned randomly, as the inside is most advantageous spot. The judge also makes sure all of the horses have a driver.