Archives for December 16, 2018

New Technologies Set New Standards For Horse Racing

We see new technologies influencing every aspect of competitive sports today. In the horse racing industry where horse breeders, trainers and owners have invested substantial amounts of money to ensure their horse comes out tops, the implementation of cutting-edge technology has become a deciding factor. Today the $25 billion global horse-racing industry has used technology to not only influence the performance of horses, but also to predict the outcome of each race.


Starspangledbanner Ready to Fly HighEyeballing a horse or looking at its pedigree are traditional methods used to assess a horse’s potential. In 2006, a group of researchers were able to map 2.7 billion DNA base pairs in the horse genome. This information has since been used to accurately and effectively measure a horse’s potential, based on its genetic makeup. Where horse breeders are spending $2 million on a horse, they can be sure that the chances of it being an elite racer is substantially higher.


Jeff Seder began analyzing athletes in the late 70’s in slow motion to understand the bio mechanics of a great athlete. Seder applied these same principles of biomechanics, exercise physiology and sport science to thoroughbred horses. This was the beginning of using sensor technology that would be used to push a horse to its full genetic potential. Sensors are now a big part of performance management tools within horse racing.


Technology has improved, and these sensors can now be attached to the saddle to measure time spent in each gait, quality of the horse’s symmetry, direction, number of jumps, time racing etc. Every training session and race provides massive amounts of data. AI technology has been used to analyze this raw data and provide trainers and jockeys with useful information that can improve the chances of their horse performing well on race day.


A big aspect of horse racing is the betting which accompanies it. Technology has linked people across the world, who are now able to place bets electronically on their favorite horses. This has made the betting process now extremely simple, with the only issue being how to actually understand the betting terminology, stats, bet types and which horse to choose. This means the amount of money which is being placed on horses has increased dramatically. At the Kentucky Derby 2015 on-book Derby wagers reportedly totaled $130.5 million. These punters mainly comprise of ordinary folk like me and you, but there is an elite group of Ivy League-educated computer scientists, astute handicappers and seasoned money-movers who use technology to benefit from the system.


These syndicates use computer software to analyze large amounts of data from past races to provide what is hoped to be the true odds for each horse running. Once favorable odds are discovered, they wage large sums of money to win big. It is estimated that these syndicates make up between 15.9 percent to 20.2 percent of total racing money wagered in North America.


Many have argued that technology ruins the purity of the races. What was once a game of chance has turned into something almost entirely mechanical, where we can predict a horse’s performance down to the second. On the other hand, technology has benefited the horse tremendously, with big ‘strides’ being made in improving the health and well-being of the animals.

Is Fantasy Football A Game of Skill or A Game of Luck?

Skill or Chance fantasy sports

DALLAS – DEC 14: Taken in Texas Stadium on Sunday, December 14, 2008. Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Tony Romo waits for the snap from the center.

We could talk all day about probability theory, the law of large numbers, the gambler’s fallacy, Bertrand’s box paradox, the Monty Hall problem and other brain-teasing puzzles of probability and still fail to come to grips with Derrick Henry’s improbable fantasy football performance on Thursday (12/6/18) for the Tennessee Titans.

You could not have predicted the running back’s near 50-point performance. And nobody did because Henry wasn’t even the most productive fantasy back on his own team before re-entering the American sports consciousness for the first time since 2015 when he won the Heisman Trophy while playing at Alabama.

There was good news and bad news in all this, depending on your league and your perspective. Unless you play in a touchdown-only league or a very large standard league, chances are you weren’t victimized by Henry’s career day in Nashville, because your opponent had him on the bench. Nor did you benefit, because you also had him benched.