07/29/2002 11:00PM

New bet cycle to be installed

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NEW YORK - Odds boards at most racetracks in the United States will be converted to 45-second cycles over the next several months after a test administered by a racetrack trade group was deemed satisfactory, officials of the trade group said Tuesday.

The 45-second cycle was introduced by the trade group, the Thoroughbred Racing Associations, to combat suspicion about late-odds changes at many tracks. Many bettors have complained over the past 18 months about large wagers placed in the last minutes before post that dramatically impact win prices.

The current cycle updates odds every 60 seconds. By cycling every 45 seconds, bettors will be able to more accurately identify late wagering trends, supporters of the new cycle contend.

The test, stretching over two weeks, involved Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Delaware Park. Churchill Downs tested the cycle during the last month of its recent meet, and Arlington Park has tested the cycle since opening in early June, TRA officials said.

The new cycle will be "phased in gradually," according to TRA executive secretary Chris Scherf, because of concerns over the ability of the nationwide tote network to handle the increased traffic.

"No one wants to do this and then suddenly find out they screwed up someone's parimutuel system," Scherf said. "The decision was made to work out a schedule to gradually convert anyone that wants to 45 seconds."

Scherf said that TRA tote company officials discussed on Monday developing additional safeguards to prevent anyone from placing a past-post wager. Concern over past-posting has closely tracked suspicions over the late-odds changes, although track officials and regulators have said there is no evidence that anyone is placing past-post bets.