by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am
By Ray Paulick
Equibase has been a financial success in the 19 years since it was created by the Jockey Club and member tracks of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America. As a reader pointed out in a comment to yesterday’s Paulick Report article on Thoroughbred racing’s official database, Equibase paid out $3.6 million in dividends at the end of 2008 (that’s $2.4 million for the TRA tracks and $1.2 million for the Jockey Club). An earlier press release said Equibase had paid out $24.6 million in dividends since 1998.

But how is the company doing in fulfilling the mission its founders established for Equibase?

Alan Marzelli, president of the Jockey Club and chairman of Equibase, said in 1990 the “promotion and betterment of racing is behind the decision” to start Equibase. The company’s first president, David Haydon, said Equibase would “address racing’s need for fan base expansion.”

Marzelli can point to the fact that the “industry” through Equibase since 1991 has owned its data, which previously had been collected and controlled by the “Daily Racing Form.” Limited portions of that data have been provided at no charge for promotional purposes to television, media and racetracks. Daily entries, jockey and trainers standings, and horse tracking software are available at no cost, as are race results for a limited time after a race is run. Equibase.com is a popular web site, by horse racing standards, though it pales in comparison with every other major league sport’s Internet presence.

Equibase.com also strikes out, big time, when compared to what the other major league sports web sites offer in the way of free statistics to their fans. It wasn’t until I started really digging around www.mlb.com (baseball), www.nba.com (basketball), www.nfl.com (football), www.pgatour.com and www.nhl.com (hockey) that I realized how woefully inadequate and misguided Equibase.com is as a sports information web site. It's a commercial site, pure and simple.

Other sports use their web sites in large part to provide information for fans who have an appetite for statistics, whether it’s for the very popular fantasy leagues or for their own curiosity. It’s truly amazing the scope and depth of information you can find on these other sites. The theory is that informed and educated fans are more likely to become engaged with a sport, and providing as much information as possible on the Internet, the undisputed No. 1 source for information gathering, is the way to inform, educate and engage them. It might take a while for those sports to capitalize on fans who visit the web sites; perhaps they’ll go to a game, buy some team merchandise or at the very least provide a pair of eyeballs during televised events.

Racing can capitalize much quicker, since turning fans into horseplayers can be monetized through pari-mutuel wagering. You’d think racing would provide as much information as possible to fans in hopes of transforming them into paying customers, either at the racetracks or through legal online betting accounts. (There are rumors that some people bet on major league sports, too, but in the United States that’s only legal in the state of Nevada, and the sports leagues don’t get any of the revenue from those bets.)

Instead, however, Equibase, the official database of Thoroughbred racing, uses its web site in large part to promote its commercial ventures. Let’s do a comparison:

I’m a baseball fan who grew up in the 1960s watching greats like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Ernie Banks (showing my Chicago Cubs bias). If I wanted to compare the lifetime statistics of any of those players to modern-day greats like Alex Rodriguez or Milton Bradley (just kidding), that information is just a click away at mlb.com.

Even better, if I wanted to see how Rodriguez or Bradley have done against pitchers like Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens, I could plug in the names and, voila, mlb.com gives me those statistics! (Click here for an explanation on how mlb.com’s stats work.)

Now let’s look at some racing greats. Say you wanted to compare the lifetime records of Cigar and Curlin, both of them two-time Horses of the Year in North America. Go to Equibase.com and click on the “search for products” dropdown menu on the left column. There you’ll have an option for “lifetime PP’s.” Type in the names of Cigar and Curlin, add them to your shopping cart, get out your credit card and buy the lifetime records of these two horses for $16. It’s a slightly different fan experience.

Want to know how Cigar’s trainer Bill Mott compares with Curlin’s trainer Steve Asmussen? Sorry, but Equibase doesn’t offer that kind of product. (It is available at the Jockey Club’s other data company, equineline.com, for $7 per report.)

Equibase does offer some products for free, including what it calls “E Leaders”—horses in various divisions that have produced the fastest Equibase speed figures (a poor man’s Beyer Speed Figure) for the year. I’m not sure how reliable these numbers are, though, since the highest speed figure for any horse racing in 2009 belongs to Researcher, who earned a 132 Equibase speed figure winning the Charles Town Classic Stakes in April. I guess in a sense you get what you pay for.

I’d tell you more about the Charles Town Classic winner, but I’m not willing to spend the $8 for his past performances or buy the chart of his race from Equibase for $1.50.

Charging for lifetime past performances and race charts is just one of many commercial products available at Equibase.com. There are tip sheets selling for as much as $12.50 per racing program, charges for video replays, charts, pedigrees, etc.

Do yourself a favor and go to some of the other major sports web sites, and explore the vast, comprehensive information that these leagues are willing to provide to their fans at no cost. The data is so rich you might get lost for hours, but the result might be a closer bond between you and that sport. There is an investment involved, but these other sports are willing to make that investment to help build and maintain a fan base, especially among the youngest demographic that is most familiar with using the Internet for gathering information.

After you’ve seen some of these other rich and creative web sites, take a look at Equibase.com. I'd be interested in your comments comparing Equibase.com with other sport web sites.

Racing, through the Jockey Club and TRA, made an initial investment in Equibase nearly 20 years ago so that the industry could own its data. The hope I had then, and the hope I still have today, is that the people who run Equibase will look beyond the bottom line of their profit and loss statement, and begin to use the statistics that the industry owns to make horse racing more popular and more accessible. All they’re doing now is making Equibase as profitable as it can be. It’s a bean counter's mentality, and it’s the kind of business philosophy that will stifle any prospect of industry growth.

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report

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  • Lynn

    Agree wholeheartedly with this article. Why must the fans pay for statistical information? It all boils down to Equibase making a buck.

  • Richard Coreno

    Any wonder why this sport continues to struggle in appealing to sports fans, besides the few minutes it takes to run the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes (if a Triple Crown is on the line)? But the title of the new Jim Squires book sums everything up….Headless Horsemen.

  • Pauxatauny Phill

    Isn’t this similiar to the situation with the Breeders Cup which was created to expand the fan base of racing, has been hugely successful at making money but has done little to grow the sport? Both have created well paying jobs for a small group of professional administrators who recycle through all racing organizations.

  • Stacy Stark

    Totally agree. It’s pathetic.
    Simply pathetic the way Equibase puts making money ahead of its original, stated purpose.
    It’s been obvious that they do not want to help an industry that pays all their expenses and high salaries.
    Equibase is owned by the Jockey Club, which is a non-profit. Does that mean that Equibase is also a non-profit?
    So, they own the data. How is that so different than the Racing Form owning the data?
    One difference is the frequent mistakes I find in race charts.
    Another has to be the people who lost their jobs or took a cut in pay to work for Equibase instead of DRF.
    As far as comparison to the other league sports; could it be an issue of scale? Racing is now so small that they don’t have the ability to make up the loss in revenue from selling its information that the other, much larger sports have.
    Most of racing/betting income now comes from ADW’s and OTB’s, not people attending the tracks. ADW’s and OTB’s really don’t have to worry about tracks making money, do they? Not if they take the short view.
    Stacy Stark

  • Stacy V

    You would think that when I was looking for a mare that it would have been relatively inexpensive to find out anything I wanted but that was not the case. If I did not already possess a massive amount of knowledge of pedigrees in general, I’d be poor by now.

    Perhaps TOBA or some of the other groups dedicated to bringing in new owner’s could get together with these for profit businesses and work a deal. I fail to see what they would lose by giving away information on a limited basis.

  • bernborough

    another great column, ray. only by examining what is not working and what does not make sense can we begin to fix the problems within this shrinking industry.

    one can understand that equibase needs to cover its costs. what are those costs, by the way? one of the beefs i have with the jockey club, outside of its general policy of unhelpfulness in the foal registration process, is that it is difficult to understand how it is promoting the industry by doing what it does. to me it seems more an exclusive club for those at the very top of the game with little regard for those who keep the races running on a daily basis. Does anyone outside the executive suite know who is being paid what, who is pulling strings behind the curtain and what expenses, perks etc these directors and executives are receiving at the expense of a struggling industry.

    ideally, one would suppose, equibase would be revenue neutral, provide pps for free (isn’t the primary goal of equibase to encourage interest in and betting on our sport?) and it would publish its expense structure for ‘stakeholders,’ and i would number owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and fans among them, to see what is going on behind the curtain.

    as an owner and breeder and an increasingly disgruntled race fan (i believe i have a few companions in that category), i am constantly reminded of how difficult we make it for people to participate in our industry, from horse ownership on down to the $2 bettor. restructuring the jockey club and its operations would be a good place to start, but there are many facets of this industry that also need a strong light shone upon them, not the least of which is the administration of race-day medication, legal and illegal, which is undermining confidence in the very foundation of our sport.

  • Bob Caito

    I use Equibase everyday. Free information on leading trainers and jockeys at every race meeting is available. Free race results, including charts and free entries and selections are available. The Top 100 owners, trainers and jockeys by money won and by races won are available for free. There is also free 5X5 pedigree information available on any Thoroughbred and I’ve found hundreds of them dating back 50 years or more. What more can you expect for free?

  • Just A Breeder

    Bob, how about everything Ray detailed for a start?

  • A year ago I created a program that scraped all of the trainers and farms websites that published free pp’s. I didn’t ask for money, I didn’t put any advertising on it, I just organized information that was readily out there. I even met with Victor Espinoza and told him what I was doing, and showed him how he could make money off of it. (http://foxyurl.com/rWN) The look I got back pretty much said, “Thanks, but no thanks”

    A few months ago going directly to the .pdf files stopped working. To access the free PP you had to be coming from the trainer/owner/breeder website directly, so the days of aggregation were over. I emailed people about this, and tried to find an equitable solution (carry free advertising for them, maybe pay whatever it is that trainers pay) but it was no use.

    The reasons I heard for the trainers/owners/breeders being able to do this was because of some crazy contractual clause made in the late 80’s or early 90’s that the information was owned by 2 arms of the same company and that the trainers/owners/breeders were pretty much getting the info for free, or for a nominal monthly fee.

    I’ve been to NTRA meetings, BC meetings, spoken with so many people in the know over the last 2 years I’ve come to the realization of what really holds this industry back. It’s the reluctance to negotiate. It’s the inability to sit down and reopen these contracts on issues like this, from PP info to takeout to sales, it’s all a house of cards based on a contract written in 1953 (sarcasm).

    The lack of freedom of information in the sport is only a sympton of the overall disease the industry faces: Inertia.

  • Oh if you don’t mind I’d like to give a little plug to our PP aggregator that, while no longer directs you to the .pdf it does take you to the page in which the pdf resides, and usually we’ll have free past performances for most every race on the NYRA circuit and other large meets (Del Mar, Keeneland) [http://tbablogs.com/index.php?rss=pp]

  • steve

    Agree 100% with Ray on this one!

  • rwwupl

    The current racing managers like to refer to the game they control as “ENTERTAINMENT” now and that is a code word for “We are not responsible for anything,as long as you have been entertained”

    The current managers are beancounters,not sportsmen and they only care about the bottom line,and have never known who,why,what are the fan base,what they want and their performance numbers are loud and clear and prove the point.

    Ray’s point is a good one on access to information.

    Concentrate to clear the public perception of a lack of integrity,lower the take,get rid of drugs,etc. and see horse racing take its rightful place in the SPORTS of America.

  • john greathouse

    an absurd book written by an absurd person

  • Romulous

    I think Satish Sanan should look into this and find a solution. He is our savior for the moment. While he is working on it maybe he can get on their board ( if they have one ) That would give him extra button on his jacket like a cub scout.

  • Tapit

    A new league, unified rules, a modern sport were all the talk of the day 20 years ago, people began to ask why all the alphabet soups can’t cooperate to improve the game for all.

    Then the impossible happened, the industry came together and created a revolution of sorts. East, west, north and south all had one place to call home, knowing their information would be distributed correctly and on time to their fans. It worked because of many reasons and to this day the industry has a “home,” but what wasted potential.

    Was Equibase memorized by the Internet? Instead of acting like the Official Source for Thoroughbred Racing Information it acted like a start-up internet site. Did the NTRA distract everyone from where the attention really needed to be?

    The revolution stopped and everyone is as confused as ever. I think a majority realize that Horse Racing needs a central authority, with that as a given, isn’t Equibase aka information the obvious answer to build the league around?

  • monte

    ROTFLMAO!! Great article Ray. Of course it would take every racing entity to come TOGETHER to do something for the betterment of the sport rather than the betterment of each entity’s bottom line. Lifetime PP’s should be available to everyone at no charge so they can continue to support this great sport. More info = MORE INVESTMENT!!

  • Ray Paulick

    Romulous…Equibase does in fact have what it calls a management committee, consisting of representatives from its owners (Jockey Club and TRA tracks). Here is the present makeup of the committee:

    Chairman and CEO: Alan Marzelli

    Peter Berube
    Sherwood C. Chillingworth
    C. Steven Duncker
    Craig Fravel
    James L. Gagliano
    Hal Handel
    Christopher McErlean
    Bill Mudd
    Nick Nicholson
    Ogden Mills Phipps
    Mike Weiss

    Treasurer: Laura Barillaro
    Secretary: Chris Scherf
    Officers: Hank Zeitlin, President and COO

  • John

    This article sums up why horse racing is following boxing to the graveyard of once great American sports. New fans will not pay for information to learn about a sport.

  • Richard G

    Ray touched on something I haven’t been able to fathom for many years – why we charge our fans/patrons for so many things that are free other places they can go.

    We ask them to come to our track and bet on our races, but then we require them to buy a program and/or Racing Form to have the information they need to wager. Wouldn’t it make more sense to provide them free and have the fans/patrons put that money into our wagering pools?

    And we charge them for parking, but they can go to pretty much any casino and park for free and often be given free drinks, etc.

    Customer service is simply something this industry has long since forgotten.

  • bullring

    You are talking about an industry that at one point fought against having its product on television.

  • Glimmerglass

    While other sports are cited such as the NFL and MLB there is a tremendous difference – you cannot legally wager on those sports. As such their stats have no economic value. Further data use has been long fought by other sports. MLB has sued several groups in recent years with the use of play-by-play results and has long had the “expressed written consent” disclaimer.

    It appears that two different issues are being blurred here and they should not be whatsoever.

    First the quality of the data obtained, recorded and shared. I wholeheartedly agree that if the data is inept and lacking then equibase should address that. Innovation with data use and presentation has been slow as possible unfortunately. The DRF with a service like the Formulator certainly is progressive in how data can be far better analyzed.

    In regards to calls for all this data to be free for the asking that only will diminish the interest in making the data better. Who in their right mind will plow more money into bettering the data if at the end of the day there is no compensation? There is a tremendous amount of data that is available for free as it is. Want more? It is only logical that it comes at some price.

    If someone wants to make the case that pricing should be dropped by X, or repackaged so that charges are set up differently, and for that some pent up demand will result in a win-win for all then back up that claim. Perhaps they are pricing data at a price point just above what the public will pay. However that is a far cry from asserting they are somehow killing the sport by not making everything free.

    Equibase is not the local public library where tax dollars and fundraisers support the public’s ability to access data is free.

    As for those whining about having to buy a $2 program at a track – are you serious? Let me understand this: the consumer who is buying the program is doing so to wager and ostensibly to make money but investing $2 is too much? I’d suggest investing some time before you get on the bus to research on the internet the races. Some creative hunting will yield most of the data you need.

    Don’t get me wrong I’ve gone to a Turf Paradise where the data provided in the non-free program is as thin as a Kraft single but that is whole other topic. Slamming Equibase for everything wrong in the sport from it being too costly, to not finding a race on tv, to some conspiracy with it being cloudy the day you went to the track just sounds like a lot of whining.

  • bernborough

    if the posters on this board headed the jockey club, the ntra, the toba, the rci and the hbpa, we would have a central league office that would not only save this industry – but vault it to pre-television highs.

    could we then push through? –

    1. a universal ban on and uniform penalties for race-day medication.
    2. lower take out to compete with casinos
    3. free data for bettors
    4. much improved customer service
    5. a national fund for retired horses
    6. improved conditions for barn workers
    7. a unified channel on cable tv
    8. a humane whip riders can accept
    9. adequate warm ups for equine and the human athletes riding them
    10.. strict, nationally uniform pre-race vet checks

    add your own priorities and the obituaries might prove premature

  • Aaron Shapiro

    This is one of the reasons horseracing is no longer considered a major sport. The industry has done more to discourage fans from playing the game than they could imagine. Why would a young person want to play this game.
    1-Perception is the horses are on drugs.
    2- Last minute odds changes,perception is people are betting after the start of the races.
    3-Take out.
    4-Industry does not teach customers how to properly play the game.
    5-Tracks do not treat their customers with respect.
    6-Racing Form is $6.00,because they print what they want , not what the customer wants. If they just sold pp’s for a $1.50 per card,customers would be happy. Nothing against their writers,but I don’t know 1 person who buys the Form because of the articles written.

  • mr. ed

    good article mr. paulick.
    wilbur hates you for speaking the truth about racing’s leadership.
    as i wait for that clown to bring me my lunch–“where are my #$%^& carrots!! ” i leave you with a single observation:
    comparisons with other sports over “free data” are a bit meaningless because of a significant difference between our sport and the others– racing data can be spun into gold quite easily. this raw product is easily translated into “competitive advantage” in the bloodstock marketplace.
    no other sport gives any fan, breeder, trainer, owner etc. the opportunity to turn something so small into something so big as “racing statistics. ”
    That’s the sport’s best kept secret. ask any insider. that’s why they don’t give it away. foreget their “lip service” about growing the sport.
    their actions speak louder than their words.
    many of those who perform as stewards of the sport ( members of the jockey club, toba, ntra, etc.) are also everyday “inside traders” in the bloodstock marketplace.
    like “masters of the universe” they tout their brilliance,refuse to admit their conflict of interest, while secretly controlling their “source” for profit.
    self-serving as this appears, it remains consistent with the history of the sport; promulgated tacitly by most insiders and begrugingly accepted as inevitable by racing fans.
    the question remains–how do we as fans squeeze this “pay to play” mentality out of the sport.
    afterall, it is OUR sport, not their private, sleazy (someone told me they drug racehorses–no way) ponzi-scheme of a spectacle they so graciously sucker us into playing, inducing us to carry the weight, provide life support and whatever, right?
    repeat after me, “we own the game.”
    is it unreasonable to demand that the sport’s stewards give us “equal weight” rather than forcing us to carry the dreams, aspirations and ambitions of every racing insider just to cash a lousy bet.
    that golden egg shrinks as we sit on our hands expecting someone else to save us from ourselves. wilbur!!!

  • Pete

    I came into this sport Disabled and down-The Game was the Lifesaver-
    But Between All the cost to start- TVG being the worst for a begginer to use as a wagering outlet-
    I was almost crapped out-ONLY until a few helped out-Then I really became a fan-
    In other words they shared info with me that at the time I could not afford.

    Honestly this industry sucks–I’ll stay. Why? The love of the game Seperate from the industry
    & my love of the horse.

  • Jack Burton

    The fact that the sport requires its fans to purchase old PP’s or charts is absurd. Its one thing to charge a modest fee for a program, its quite another to make would-be fans do so to research the game.

    As Ray mentioned, you either purchase the data at 5-10 bucks per horse or you buy a $50 book like the DRF’s Champions. (Assuming the horse you want to look at was a champion) Could you imagine NFL.com charging fans to see how many yards Barry Sanders rushed for?

    Or what about the form making you purchase old speed figures? Why in the world should a fan have to spend money to find out what the winning Beyer was for a race 10 years ago?

    The bottom line is the game is a big pain in the ass to follow, either as a fan, gambler or both. When the old time degenerates take the last bus to Albuquerque there will not be new fans ready to replace them.

  • Vicki

    Richard G. you hit the nail on the head. Doesn’t it make common sense if the fans did not have to pay for all the “extras” they would have that much more money left to bet. The one thing that makes our sport stand out from all the others is parimutel betting. If those other sports can afford to give us all the free info we want, why can’t horse racing when they have all that much more of a chance at getting some money back for their investment?

  • Aunt Bea

    Modern World Information Age:
    Info @ fingertips, law enforcement hiring hackers to keep up with the pace.

    Thoroughbred industry Information Age:
    Breeder A to Breeder B over dinner @ Puccini”s: Did you hear about this guy? My friend X doesn’t like him.

  • Larry R

    Equibase’s insistence that they own racing data is probably one of the reasons why TrakUs, which would provide more accurate information about the running of races, is installed at just three tracks in North America (WO, DMR and KEE) .

  • Picksburg Phil

    Good article. I would add the paucity of live video to the list of exclusionary tactics of the industry. Only Philadelphia Park and California Th. Owner Assoc have live video streaming at no cost. (that I am aware of)

  • Jack

    Even something as simple as the U.K.’s Racingpost.com has vastly superior statistics on all it’s horses, stallions, and broodmares.

  • Joe

    Horse racing isn’t a sport anymore, it is a horse, racegoer, bettor and naive horse owner ‘s milking machine, a culture that milks horses, green and careless owners, fans and horseplayers. Though racing has no shortage of brainiacs, it is addicted to drugs, claiming races, slots and the discarding of empty horses even though all are malignant. It shuns transparency and its spin doctors talk the talk as needed while crucial issues continue to be avoided.

  • Nancy P

    Ray is Right!

    “All for sale” is the current and long-honored tradition of horse racing. Take pedigrees, for example: Finally available for free, after all these years — and if you know where to look.. The Jockey Club has ALWAYS charged for pedigrees — as if it owned the brith rights to every horse. As if your local county clerk earned the rights to you own human family tree.

    I bring up pedigrees as an example. If we recall a time back before stamina was systematically bred out of the American thoroughbred, the Dosage Index enjoyed a great run of interest at Kentucky Derby time. But what racing fan could participate? Can’t do it without the pedigrees to work the Dosage System, so interested or curious fans could not participate.

    As you point out, an opportunity like that for fan participation would NEVER be overlooked by Major League Baseball.

    Thank you, and don’t forget to urge your local Republican congressman to stop obstructing health care reform for the benefit of the already rich merely wanting more. — Nancy P

  • Wilson P.

    Jeez, Anything else, Nancy P.???

  • steve

    6-Racing Form is $6.00,because they print what they want , not what the customer wants. If they just sold pp’s for a $1.50 per card,customers would be happy. Nothing against their writers,but I don’t know 1 person who buys the Form because of the articles written.

    So true!

  • Ray Chatsworth

    Where do you draw the line on what should be free.

    Equibase came along before the internet. It allowed racetracks to be able to sell you a program for $1.50 instead of watching your money go to the DRF. You were paying the DRF for it before. Why should you get it for free just because someone else gathered the information?

    And why should it be free just because Al Gore invented this internet thing? Should we give away Equibase pps but not DRF pps? Should Beyer Speed Figures be free but Thorograh numbers cost money? It’s all information gamblers use to make money and gathered for that explicit purpose.

    If people believed you could make money off the free information, someone would have found away to go through the charts in the newspapers years ago before these new-fangled computers were on everybody’s desks and phones. But wait…you had to pay 25 cents for the local paper…so even that’s not free.

    Equibase/DRF-style PPs are widely accepted tools to make money on horse racing. Same with advanced pedigree information. They’re not stats culled from box scores that could prove helpful in settling barroom arguments.

    And Nancy P…how’s that Dosage thing working out for you? It must stink that you haven’t watched a Kentucky Derby all these years because you couldn’t find the Dosage numbers for free before the race.

  • Smilin’ Sera

    #5: Stacy V.
    “Perhaps TOBA or some of the other groups dedicated to bringing in new owner’s could get together with these for profit businesses and work a deal.”

    If you think TOBA is “not a for profit business” you’ve got to be joking!! and helping the owners and breeders – haven’t seen it yet!

  • Picksburg Phil

    Mr. Chatsworth,
    No one expects it to be “free”. At a casino, there is no charge for parking, admission, or cocktails in a (usually) nice facility. If you play a lot, throw in meals and a room. All of that is priced into the wager. At the track, not only do you pay to park, to walk in the dilapidated gate to the dilapidated facility, pay confiscatory prices for what is jokingly referred to as food, warm beer, information and programs, and – to top it off – you have to pay 20% or more to make a wager. That’s insane! At 20% per wager, they should send limos to everyone within a 100 mile radius.

  • New Jersey Jake

    # 21. Glimmerglass…. I guess I’m stupid but I don’t get your point. ARe you saying because people need this information to make bets from which the tracks will profit, equibase should charge for the information. Doesn’t the NFL provide free injury reports (and penalize teams when they are false, late, or misleading) just so gamblers aren’t left in the dark when they bet on football?

    I guess what you are saying is equibase charges for information …. because it can.

    I’m glad you’re not in charge of the public bathrooms at the rest areas on the Florida turnpike.

  • redtep

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ray Paulick’s comments. If Equibase isn’t up to the task of a modern, accessible, statistical website for horse racing, another organization should be created that can do this. You can look up any baseball game played in the past 50 years – with box scores – on http://www.retrosheet.org. If you have the vaguest memory of a baseball game – Bob Gibson game at Riverfront Stadium in 1970 – you can look up the game easily on this site. Who ran in the Preakness in 1994? Good luck trying to find that out. How many races has Allen Jerkins won at Saratoga over the past 50 years? How does Rachael Alexandra compare with other all-time great 3 year old fillies? Horse racing’s history is second to none and Equibase does a complete disservice to the sport by not having a better website than the current one.

  • amfcf

    While this post isn’t specifically about Equibase, it is about ‘stats’. Stats help us to play the game of handicapping. I used to love to pick up a form, handicap as a mental exercise, gamble for the aerobic exercise (think heart rate), and have an all-around great day at the track (especially Hialeah!). Those days are over. By the time I’ve spent $5 on a form and heaven knows how much else on parking, admission, and food/drink…there’s nothing left to spend on a wager! Not to mention the fact that with all the tracks and all the different surfaces, and all the different DRUGS in the horses’ system — that fun, mental exercise has now become an exercise in futility.

    Like members of my family, I still love this sport but I really don’t like it very much anymore.

  • Great article! For a bit of inspiration I suggest Equibase / the Jockey Club immediately check out Chris Anderson’s latest book “Free: The Future of a Radical Price”.

    Bottom-line, the racing industry should make as much past performance data as possible available for free and allow others (people and businesses) to use and possibly make money off that information however they can. They are in the business to sell “RACING”; not “programs”. Free data will increase innovation by those who are better motivated and have better ideas on how to organize, present, and make use of the data. Not to mention a welcome customer relations & PR gesture for horseplayers.

    Charging for pp data and stats is a relatively small thing, but indicative of a much larger and problematic mindset by industry leaders. I don’t recall having to pay Google to use their search engine but they’ve found a way to monetize “search” just fine.

  • GeorgeB

    Ray Paulick is great, no two ways about it. He’s one of the few reporters in this industry who isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers. Not calling out DRF or anything, but their reporters continue to brush stuff under the rug while reporting the softball issues. Thank you Ray Paulick, we need more people like you in this game if it ever hopes to survive.

  • Glimmerglass

    #39. “New Jersey Jake” – I didn’t say they can charge for information “just because”. Rather as I cited they (1) DO give away information for free (or are you making a claim that isn’t the case) and (2) there IS a cost to equibase for the collection, storage and dissemination of information.

    So no I don’t object to a degree of information being charged. As for the asinine reference to the FL restrooms why don’t you get with the game and be more constructive.

    Does anyone truly think there isn’t a cost for equibase’s role? So for all those suggesting all of this should be as free as the air we breathe and “because casinos don’t charge for parking” how exactly should equibase be financially supported and/or compensated?

  • Michael Cusortelli

    #35 — But DRF does sell PPs for $1.50 per card. You can get them online for that price and only pay for the ones you want.
    It’s kind of ironic to hear people talk about how racing needs to get with the times, when I see so many people still handicapping out of a printed copy of the DRF — just like people did 40 years ago.

  • Picksburg Phil

    Glimmer, read #38. It’s not free, IT’S PRICED INTO THE WAGER! With the 20%+ racetrack rake, they should be able to pay Equibase with solid gold bars. Casinos do everything they can to get customers, racetracks do everything they can to lose customers. Programs, for instance, have advertising which covers the cost, yet the tracks still nickel and dime you for those, and still charge 20%+ for the wager. If the rake was 5% I’d pay admission and $12 for a hotdog that has been siiting in month old water for the last 12 days.

  • willie_brown

    yo Phil…calm yo’ self. you is gettin too crazy man.

  • Picksburg Phil

    yo willie,
    sorry if I’m grumpy. I was in Juarez Mexico the previous weekend and came back with Montezuma’s revenge.

  • Phil, LMFAO!

    You are dead on. Equibase should be geting paid by the tracks to collect and make available pp information for the bettors and anyone else. And they should not be making millions of $$ and paying huge dividends. Just covering expenses should be their goal.

    People use pp data to make bets of which the tracks make money from via the takeout. The more bets, the greater the takeout. Equibase should make it as easy and cheap as possible for everyone to use their data to bet, pure and simple. Instead, like everything else, the customers are getting are nickel and dimed.

  • Joe

    #48 Willie Brown?? The shameless, corrupted, but well connected ex San Fran mayor that the racing and gaming symposium invited a few years ago in Tucson?

  • Richard R

    Any idea what percent of information-related revenue comes from “resellers” such as DRF, BRIS, HDW, etc? Equibase also owns Trackmaster, right? It’s little wonder that the monopoly mentality is alive and well at Equibase given its ownership.

  • What’s sad is only Horse palyers are reading/replying to this,

    The Horse industry doesn’t even particapte in these discussion,

    This is the internet world,

    Why don’t the people responsible for the state of horse racing,
    which we all hate,

    try to come on here and debate there positions.

    Cause they don’t care.
    Cause they don’t care.
    Cause they don’t care.
    Cause they don’t care.
    Cause they don’t care.

    Cause they don’t care.

  • death_spiral

    Step one should be to table the discussion of current data, tomorrows PPs…and focus on historical info.

    Databases are very important for many many many serious players — and the cost is prohibitive enough for many new people to balk, when they learn it will cost them thousands and thousands of dollars. Which means many potentially serious players keep right on walking, or, if racing is lucky, they find someone who will illegally give them the data. Asking people to put up thousands just so they can find out whether they can find an edge in a 20% takeout game is not a winning proposition.

    People can debate whatever they want about tomorrows information, but there is zero question that charging exorbitant prices for yesterdays information (and all the info that came before it) COSTS the industry money, and not a small amount.

  • I wrote several articles for my blog this year comparing the winners of the past ten Kentucky Derbys. It cost me $80 dollars, $8 dollars per lifetime individual horse PP to gather the information from Equibase.

    Great article but you are preaching to the choir. The horse fans still standing who read your blog are the ones like me willing to pay for stuff other sports give the fans for free.

    For what I pay Equibase and Daily Racing Form each month to have proper data for my blog, you would think I could at least get the data in a format more useful then PDF as well. Just getting a Beyer Speed Fig post race costs money.

    Thanks Ray.

  • This Ray Paulick is a real troublemaker if you ask me!

  • BetEarlyBetOften

    I read Ray’s post earlier today when I received the link via email and I have stewed over it all day. I use to participate and comment in racing forums, (remember when there were forums on the DRF site, I guess we pointed out their shortcomings and lack of customer service too often) but I gave up a long time ago.

    Like so many others, I have long been appalled at the inefficiencies of Thoroughbred Racing’s marketing. The cost of racing data is yet another symptom of the stupidity, short-sightedness and penny pinching of racing management.

    According to their website, Equibase, ‘Your Official Source for Thoroughbred Racing Information’, was formed ‘to provide the Thoroughbred racetracks of North America with a uniform, industry-owned database of racing information and statistics.’ This in my view is the problem, it was a business decision about control of the data. Control. It was not about enhancing the industry or serving the betting public.

    I accept that there is a cost to acquiring past performance data, data warehousing, website management and providing bandwidth (‘regularly exceeds 5 million hits per day’ – Equibase website) to allow for multiple users to download. (Equibase’s capital start-up costs have already been paid off.) But, this is a marketing expense. Yes we want this data in order to make money, but tracks want us to bet. How to encourage betting? Provide the tools!

    If you want Beyer, Bris or E figures or a tip sheet you should pay for it. Daily Racing Form is a private company and is entitled to the right to try to make a profit. They are in the business of packaging and selling data, and in news/commentary. They are free to set whatever price they feel the market will accept. We can either pay it or go elsewhere. Convenience, quality, price – we weight the options then decide. Equibase is a private company, but differs in that it is owned by and is an extension of the industry itself, its purpose should be to support, market and grow the industry.

    Operating a racecourse is very expensive, tracks must make money to survive. We want them to prosper. All the better if every track could make a nice profit, even better if the bettor could also show a profit at month end. How? Tracks make money on take-out, the more money the public wagers, the more a track makes, the more a track makes the more they can spend to attract better/bettor racing.

    Simple track programs and full PP sheets cost money to produce, I am willing, grudgingly, to pay the printing cost of a track program, but only the cost. The same holds for PP data. But should we really have to pay the full costs? Have we not already paid for this data by wagering on the races – allowing them to go – that created this data.

    I have options, one way or another, we all do. By signing up with HPIBet, Canada’s only choice for online betting, I can download a free basic program – with no PP data ,not even the three lines of PP found in a typical track program, that costs money. It costs HPI money, they buy this data from Equibase and pass on the cost. I wish I knew at what cost. At my local track, I can use HPI points acquired by wagering to get free programs, but first I need to accumulate the points – the pinheads running these programs are only marketing to those that are already betting!

    I paid almost nothing for my printer, but even with mainly using refilled cartridges, I almost own the printer company with the amount of money I have spent on new cartridges. Almost every printer manufacturer accepts that they will not make money on the initial sale of home and small office printers, the profit is in consumables. The model is simple, spend the money, have the consumer commit to your product. What should racing do?

    Home Depot, McDonald’s, Starbuck’s, Wal-Mart etc. all spend big, big money to get you into their stores. They spend big money inside their stores to get the customer to buy, buy, buy. The racing industry wants us to pay more and more for the privilege of betting on smaller and smaller fields with smaller exotic pools and higher take-outs.

  • Tinky

    As a related aside, consider this: I use apple computers, as do millions of other people. You can add millions more when you take into account Iphone users. Equibase is STILL not fully supportive of Safari or Firefox (i.e. the browsers used by Mac users), as some of their main pages fail to format properly. I have written to the CEO on several occasions about this issue, and have never received a SINGLE reply!

    I mean, really, you can’t make this stuff up.

    Oh, and in the UK, one can access a tremendous amount of valuable information for FREE (Racing Post, attheraces, etc.), including PP’s which allow the user to instantly link to related horses and races, etc.

  • Joe

    yo Phil, Juarez? That freaking town makes horse racing look tame if not perfect.

  • Ghostzapper


    Off Topic.

    Your headline that MEC creditors going after Magna International is WRONG. I would suggest you change this immediately. As a shareholder in Magna International I find it interesting that you would make such a stupid mistake. MID which is M I Development is the company you meant. Magna International is a completely different entity. Dont be surprised if you get some nasty calls.

  • Frank Fisler

    Hey Stacy Stark , I doubt if you would know a mistake in a chart if it bit you in the butt.

    Another so called expert….just what we need.

  • Picksburg Phil

    Joe says “yo Phil, Juarez? That freaking town makes horse racing look tame if not perfect.”

    yo Joe, I like to live dangerously. BTW, the race/sports book reopened 1 block further south. Pretty nice by Mexican standards.

  • #21 – Glimmerglass – you can’t legally wager on other sports? You should get out more mate. Those stats might not be specifically produced for betting, but they are used legally and illegally around the world. If those sports wish to stick their heads in the sand and ignore it, that’s another matter. But most other sports outside of North America, now recognise the value of being betting-friendly – it’s an extra income stream.

    If you want people to bet more, you give them the info for free. Best example of that in the world – the Hong Kong Jockey Club – http://www.hkjc.com/english/index.asp. Is it any coincidence they have the biggest pools in the world??

    #57 – Firefox is now the preferred browser of people visiting my blog, they really are in the dark ages…

  • If you want to be underpaid and undervalued, I would suggest working at Equibase.

    The turnover rate is very high, and employees are disposable, the budget is their only concern.

    If you actually saw the inner workings of the software/network, you would laugh.

    The cutting-edge of racing technology… in 1996…

    This place is a joke.

  • Search Engines Parser is enormously fast, 100% automatic search engine results extractor you were dreaming about for many times. Search Engines Parser can extract results from all search engines at the same time, parse titles, descriptions and links automatically. You can specify which search engine(s) to use and what kind of data to parse. Search Engines Parser can output results to screen, export to MySQL database and write to CSV file.

  • There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

  • drjude518

    I use Equibase because I have to. The website is a huge, slow albatross but there isn’t anything else available. ( and lets not talk about HPIBET which is strictly zero). I wouldn’t dream of paying for its services; that is laughable.

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