Archives for March 13, 2019

Here’s One Look at Free Horse Racing Data

by Rich Nilsen

In the fall of 1992 I graduated from the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program, and the following summer, the director of the program, Dr. Bob Lawrence, got me connected to Dick Broadbent, owner of Bloodstock Research Information Service, Inc.   Mr. Broadbent hired me and I soon became their Marketing Director.  Over the years this job expanded into head marketing duties for their ADWs, BrisBET.com and TsnBet.com, as well as their sister data company, Thoroughbred Sports Network (TSN).  [TSN utilized Equibase data, whereas Brisnet utilized Daily Racing Form data].

Shortly after he partnered with Beulah Park in Ohio and created the ADW BrisBET, Dick Broadbent had the genius idea of giving away complimentary past performances to customers who wagered through his new betting site.   I wish I could say it was my idea, but it wasn’t.  The concept was simple.  All the customer had to do was place a $2 bet on a given track and he or she could download the Brisnet Past Performances for free.  It was viewed as a loss leader, as BrisBET would still pay the appropriate royalty to Equibase for any and all past performances accessed.

At this time we were kicking the DRF’s butt, as we had the Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances, a product that was far superior to the original ‘Racing Form.’  Wagering sites like DrfBets.com were over a decade away from existence, and BrisBET was becoming well known and growing rapidly each year.  Wager with BrisBET and get your data for free — the data you were originally paying for.  A majority of the Brisnet data customers who resided in eligible states switched over to BrisBET for their wagering, and tons of new customers came flooding in the door…every day.

We didn’t have the astronomical marketing budget of major competitor YouBet, but we had free past performances and that carried a lot of weight.  We also had a rock-solid wagering platform, and we executed other ideas well, such as the AmericaTAB Players Pool and the Brisnet NHC online qualifiers, the first of its kind on the “world wide web.”

BrisBET continued to grow like a hot tech stock, and consequently, the company (along with its partner companies) were purchased by Churchill Downs in June of 2007 for over $80 million.  BrisBET, TsnBET, and WinTicket (the Ohio racetracks’ ADW) became the foundation for Twinspires.com, and the rest is history.

This past week Pat Cummings, Craig Bernick and the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) put out a white paper to the industry in hopes of changing the market place by encouraging industry stakeholders to give away data in the expectation that it would lead to growth in the sport.  It was entitled “Embracing a Future with Free Racing Data.”  This is an idea that has been batted around for years but never really put down on paper and presented to the whole sport.

OTHER SPORTS DATA

Needless to say, there is a ton of free information available for other American past times such as baseball and football.  For example, within minutes I was able to pull up the complete minor league stats from the 1950s for my father’s best friend and sandlot teammate, Bob Lennon.  Born in 1928 Bob hit 64 home runs in one season in Nashville Double A, a record feat that earned him a plaque in Cooperstown, NY.   His detailed minor league and major league statistics, including fielding stats, as well as those of thousands upon thousands of obscure players are easily accessible at baseball-reference.com.

Original ledger from the 1944 Mill Basin Athletics, Brooklyn Sandlot champs

Playing fantasy football?  The plethora of free data available is also impressive.  With the growth of sports betting, the need to provide even more free data will be a necessity for companies with skin in the game.

TIF CALL TO EQUIBASE/TRACKS

According to the TIF paper: “Equibase–as a going interest of the racetracks and The Jockey Club–should eschew their interests to profit from data sales, absorbing the costs of data collection and distribution in favor of the wagering participation and the trickle-down industry benefits this would yield. In other words, the collection and distribution of racing data should be considered a marketing expense, used to attract and retain gamblers…. Equibase’s success should not be measured in terms of data sales, but in the performance of racing’s wagering markets.”

The bottom line and the reality is that Equibase, DRF, and BRIS are all in the business of selling data.  That’s their bread and butter. Unlike Twinspires.com, Equibase does not get a cut of the wagering handle.  They sell advertising and they sell data.  Equibase and their track partners earn a cut of every sale.

However, it is reasonable to consider a method to give away a fraction of that data without hurting their overall sales.  And if done properly, the ‘giveaway’ could grow overall sales and increase wagering within the sport.  That’s a win-win and what we all want to see happen.

A SAMPLE FREE PP

In an attempt to do just that and provide a visual of what could be done, I mocked up a stripped-down past performance product utilizing basic Brisnet data.

 

sample City of Light free pps

 

For those wondering, the following bits of data were altered or removed from the traditional Premium Plus Brisnet PPs:

5 past performance lines remain (5 removed)

6 workouts remain from the traditional 12 workouts

3 trainer categories remain (3 removed)

BRIS Race Shapes (too complicated for the novice)

BRIS Speed/Pace Pars removed

 

Of course, Equibase and the Daily Racing Form could give away their comparable version of the stripped-down, basic past performances. There are, no doubt, other ways to present free data and an online resource comparable to baseball-reference.com would make sense.

A few key items were removed from the PPs presented above, but in my opinion, this is a very good past performance product for a giveaway.  If a beginner player starts using this product, eventually they will gravitate towards a better product such as DRF Formulator, TimeformUS or the BRIS Ultimate Past Performances.   And that will cost them money.

 

Note: The opinions in this article are strictly those of the author and do not represent or speak for any company within the horse racing industry.

Related Articles:

Will Industry Answer Renewed Call for Free Betting Data

What Sports Betting Data Can Cost for a Commercial Business

TDN Article about Free Horse Racing Data

Cheltenham Festival: A day in the life of Paul Nicholls’ racing yard

Ditcheat, England (CNN) — It’s lunchtime at Manor Farm Stables and Clan Des Obeaux, a joint favorite for Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, wants his carrot, and he wants it now.

Tall, dark and handsome, his coat glistening in the unusually warm February sun, the French-bred bay gelding pricks up his ears as Clifford Baker, the head lad, tickles his soft nose and hands him his favorite vegetable.

“He just is special, he’s won some big races,” Baker told CNN Sport at the yard in Ditcheat, a small village in the rolling hills of Somerset, England. “And you’re friendly, aren’t you? And you like carrots.”