Where is horse racing's commitment to new technology, new data collection methods and advanced analytics to meet the challenges posed by a dynamic marketplace? For the horses? For the owners, trainers and breeders? For the horseplayers?
While this is one in series of features under the #FreeDataFriday banner, the application of technology in racing seems woefully behind the organized approach from other sports.
Baseball analysts suggested that balls used during the regular season were different than postseason balls due to changes in the number of expected home runs given particular launch angles and exit velocities – all derived from data first available to the league in 2015. Major League Baseball denied any changes to the balls.
A partnership between sports technology innovators ShotTracker and the Mountain West Conference, with a waiver from the NCAA, will “permit the use of electronically transmitted data to the bench for coaching purposes during regular season conference games.” According to a press release from August, 61 men's and women's college basketball programs across 12 conferences use the technology outside of games.
Statistical output from the National Hockey League's early games in the 2019 season revealed unexpected changes in shot data, available across many platforms, prompting an investigation from the league and a plethora of analysts scratching their heads. The experts reviewed data collected over the past years and the changes jumped off the screen, so to speak.
How is it that racing's reach into more modern methods of data collection and dissemination has not evolved? Trakus was first introduced in North America 13 years ago and many of its post-race outputs remain unchanged. Equibase, with its technology partner Total Performance Data, became an official timer at four North American tracks, it announced more than a year ago. None of the data accumulated at these tracks, or the two that were added per an April announcement, has been released to the public beyond normal chart information.
No public comment has been made regarding the state of electronic tracking of morning workouts following news of a test in the fall of 2018 which came last December.
“The goal of the six-week test, held September through October 2018, was to identify issues and potential solutions for using GPS technology to track workouts. Results of the study revealed the technology performed well overall and demonstrated the power of being able to track multiple workouts simultaneously. However, further testing is needed with respect to the logistics of using this technology for workouts.”
Technological evolution is rapid. Change in horse racing is not.
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