To disprove the old adage, “LIghtning never strikes the same place twice”, the Manila Jockey Club (MJC) suffered another misfortune this raceweek when the start of the Saturday (August 4) races at San Lazaro Leisure Park (SLLP) was delayed for an hour and a half.
Coming upon the heels of the cancellation of Wednesday races (August 1), the unexpected delay on Saturday was another blow to the MJC racing operations team.
A sudden thunderstorm brought heavy rains sheeting down upon the tracks, which decreased visibility to almost zero; this factor, coupled with strong winds, made it inadvisable for any races to be run until the storm had abated somewhat.
But lightning played havoc with the electrical system. A surge of “foreign voltage” adversely affected the data/odds carrier, causing it to malfunction. While bets where being registered on the totalizator from the off-track stations, no bets could be placed within the SLLP premises, nor could a display of the odds be shown on the broadcast.
Thanks to the technical savvy of the MJC Computer Dept. team onsite (led by Joel Lorenzo), they were able to “re-jack” the system and get it operational without undue delay.
Below is the text of the official report on the matter:
SUBJECT : Unusual Incident on Saturday 04 August 2007
Before 1:00 PM - All systems up. We were ready for the races.
2:00 PM - Before Race 1, weather conditions were bad. It was dark and there was heavy overcast. It then began to rain heavily, accompanied by thunder and lightning. The generator crew was alerted to start up and be on standby in case of power failure from MERALCO. Power started to flicker, and a brownout followed. Power was restored after some time. However, lightning hit the center tower which caused the VTR Dept. to shut down. Computer and totalizator connectivity also started to suffer. Our satellite held on without any trouble.
2:30-2:45 PM- The rains and thunderstorm lasted for more than 30 minutes. Continued trouble-shooting computer connectivity and dial-up backup system was earlier activated. Video and data display were affected when a spark occurred at the computer rack. We discovered that two units of equipment got burned by lightning discharge, namely the (DOC) Display Odds Controller and the Video Distribution Amplifier (DA). Strata informed us that they could send a spare DOC and would take about an hour trouble time. A spare DA was borrowed from Winners’ Circle. At the same time, our boys opened up the DOC to assess the damage and replaced some IC’s. They reinstalled the DOC and it resumed functioning. The video DA also became operational. The whole system came back to operational status on or about 3:30 PM.
Atty. Reyno Jr. was informed about the status and racing started thereafter. Races started with Race 1 and continued with the entire card (13 races) as scheduled.
1. The heavy rains and severe thunderstorm and lightning affected our electronics equipment, computer, telecommunications and video distribution with the exception of the satellite.
2. It is recommended that the group that installed the lightning arresters and surge protectors re-survey the new offices at SLLP and submit their findings for corrective measures.
As mentioned in the above report, races did resume, with Race 1 running at around 4 pm, and finishing just 45 mins beyond the usual time. Sales, however, were below the usual average.
Photo: Visibility was practically nil during the freak thunderstorm that overwhelmed SLLP last Saturday (August 4). But the excellent drainage system of the tracks allowed races to be run safely after the storm had abated.