12/16/2003 1:00AM

Canadian figures to be adjusted


The Jockey Club will begin converting Canadian purse earnings to U.S. dollars in past-performance data by Jan. 1, 2005, the organization announced on Tuesday.

The conversion potentially will put to rest a source of frustration to horseplayers and racing fans, who have complained that Canadian horses were overvalued in past performances and on leaderboards because of the discrepancies in value between the currencies. The Canadian dollar currently trades at approximately 75 cents to the U.S. dollar.

Many U.S. racing officials have been urging the conversion for nearly a decade, ever since the two currencies began to drift apart in the mid-1990's. But the effort to force the conversion has been stymied by differences between how the two major past-performance publishers, Daily Racing Form and Equibase, managed earnings data, as well as resistance from Canadian tracks and horsemen who feared the conversion would devalue the country's racing product.

The Jockey Club will spend approximately $500,000 to update its hardware and software to make the conversion, according to Alan Marzelli, the president of the organization. Marzelli said cost had been an issue to the racing industry prior to The Jockey Club's announcement.

"People thought it was the right thing to do intellectually, but they didn't want to pay for it, because there's no return on it," Marzelli said. "We've taken that issue off the table."

The only data field that will be affected will be earnings; the purses and claiming prices that appear in the running lines of past performances will not be converted.