For a few weeks this summer, horseplayers had a new tool available to them to analyze a cache of data…until Equibase requested it be shut down. The Thoroughbred Daily News profiled software engineer Robin Howlett this week. Howlett is the creator of Handycapper, which helped users sift race charts by a variety of search terms.
Howlett had contacted Equibase, the entity which owns and controls racing past performance information, requesting access to the data he needed but was quoted a large price to purchase it. He wrote a program to mine the publicly-available PDF race charts for the information he needed, and acquired the data that way.
Howlett told writer T.D. Thornton the program was well-received as users found new ways to use the search features, and the website Raceday 360 began using it in race previews. Roughly six weeks after starting Handycaper, Howlett got a cease and desist letter from Equibase. Howlett disabled the program after a cordial conversation with Equibase, though Thornton noted the discussion did not extend to a suggestion the company collaborate with Howlett.
Read more at Thoroughbred Daily News
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