TRA Adopts Protocol for 'Off Time' Display

The TRA has adopted protocol for display of the accurate "off time" of races.

Edited press release

The Thoroughbred Racing Associations board of directors has adopted a protocol establishing industry-wide standards pertaining to the display of accurate “off time” for the start of the race.

There are three facets to the protocol: All video and tote times will be synchronized to an atomic clock on a start-of-day basis; the time on the source video signal will be refreshed a minimum of once every 60 minutes; and the time of day will be displayed at the start of the race in the HR:MIN:SEC format.

In instances in which human error, communication interruptions, or other technical reasons prevent the split-second acknowledgement of the stop-betting signal from all network participants (roughly once every 10,000 races), the video will be used to confirm the off time of the race in order to verify wagering was closed prior to off time at any affected locations.

A video record of a “to-the-second” off time is a vital component in identifying any late wagers in the pari-mutuel network and requires synchronized tote and video display clocks. To ensure technical uniformity among all components of simulcasting, the TRA standard calls for utilization of Network Time Protocol.

The measures are designed to display the actual time the race started regardless of any lag time in whatever medium—direct feed, rebroadcast or Web cast—is being viewed. The TRA standard requires the time to be refreshed from the NTP source a minimum of once every 60 minutes because video graphic computers can lose seconds over the course of a few hours.

In conjunction with the Close Betting Failure Protocol adopted by the TRA in February, the Time Sync Protocol provides critical information to the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau for its investigations of potential close-betting anomalies. Video verification of the start is checked against the close betting acknowledgements the host receives from all wagering outlets.

Verification of off time and close of betting for all races has become increasingly important because the unrelated issue of late odds shifts has led to some public misperception of past-posting. The TRA strongly recommends the Time Sync Protocol be used in conjunction with the immediate video display of the quick odds update available 10 seconds after the start of the race, which will usually encompass more than 95% of the final win pool.