The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's (TIF) latest paper, “Embracing a Future with Free Racing Data,” calls on industry data collector and provider Equibase to propel racing into the analytics era.
“The founders of Equibase launched the company out of necessity – racing needed control of its own data – but they framed the company's purpose broadly, as one that should act in the best interests of the industry. In today's world, we believe the industry would be best served releasing the data and allowing the public's processing power to have at it,” said Patrick Cummings, TIF Executive Director.
“Racing has a voluminous data set and unlike most other sports, each piece is tied to a financial market, the odds for that race. We should want tech-savvy horseplayers, gamblers from other sports, racing fans, academics and researchers to get their hands into this data and drive analysis of the sport forward. There is little value in keeping this data tied up in rigid formats and not in the hands of the people who could grow betting markets.”
TIF offers four main recommendations for Equibase in the paper:
– provide free, raw data feeds for registered, non-commercial users;
– provide free, basic past performances on all North American tracks;
– provide responsive channels to regularly address errors and omissions in the data;
– partner with universities to study racing data, developing new and advanced metrics for the betterment of the sport.
“Despite being one of the most data intensive sports imaginable, the lack of publicly available, well-formatted and affordable data is probably one of American racing's greatest head-scratchers,” says Marshall Gramm, Rhodes College economics professor and chair, co-founder of Ten Strike Racing and successful handicapper, most-recently ninth in the National Horseplayers' Championship.
“Easy access to historical data fueled the analytics revolution in baseball, resulting in thousands of articles and books, and it's going stronger than ever before. In horse racing, a sport that has a plethora of data and many willing researchers in the betting, breeding and horse ownership population, very little is actually happening.
“What has been a tremendous oversight to this point can be corrected. There is almost unmeasurable value in getting the raw data into the hands of the public.”
TIF highlights successful models in Australasia as indicative of a way forward.
“There is an infatuation to pricing racing data, but that sort of model seems to ignore the fundamental business of the sport,” says Gary Crispe, Chief Executive Officer of Racing And Sports Pty. Ltd. Crispe's Australian-based website offers comprehensive racing data, including free past performances, for more than 15 countries. “Data and its derivatives should be used to drive betting.”
The TIF recommendations, however, go beyond that which exists in almost any other jurisdiction.
“Offering free, basic past performances would put North America on par with some of the world's leading jurisdictions and serves as a much-deserved benefit for the sport's dedicated customers. The real ground-breaker, though, would be providing raw data feeds for non-commercial users,” says Cummings. “This would be a monumental step to propel racing into the modern era, particularly with the widespread availability of data in other sports which goes towards informing wagering decisions in a liberalized sports betting environment.”
“All sectors of the industry are impacted by our 15-year, 47% inflation-adjusted decline in wagering handle. Now is the perfect time to act, distributing the data in a way that promotes the best future interests of the industry.”
Members of the TIF Board of Directors will discuss this topic and more of the organization's work in various sessions on Wednesday at the National HBPA Convention in Clearwater, Florida.
For more information on TIF, copies of its white papers and more, visit their website: RacingThinkTank.com
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