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

Handicapping Tip of the Day # 48 – A Horse for the Course

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

One of the best ways to find a value play in this game we call horse racing is to find the horse with clouded form.  For whatever reason or reasons, the horse had a legitimate excuse not to run well  in his last start or two.  Finding a legit excuse is not always easy, and the last thing a handicapper should be doing is inventing excuses to justify his or her preference for a horse.

A week ago at Parx Racing (Feb. 19, 2019), the veteran 10 year old runner Bowman’s Beast was returning to Parx off subpar efforts at  both Charles Town and Penn National.  He was well beaten at 3/5 odds last time out at basically the same level as today.  Of course, Charles Town is a step below Parx, so, on the surface, it didn’t look good for the old gelding.

However, there were three good reasons to throw out that dismal 4th place performance.  For starters, that last race was in the mud and Bowman had a career record of 11-1-1-1, showing 8 also-ran efforts.  He was clearly a better horse on fast going.

Also noteworthy was trainer Bernard Dunham’s record with beaten favorites.  According to BRIS data, he was a 57% winner from 7 starters in their subsequent races following a loss as the favorite.

Finally, and most important, Bowman was returning to Parx.   Here were the lifetime, tabulated records in his past performances:

Lifetime: 72-13-8-11, $453,590

Parx: 38-9-4-7, $331,260

Now subtract the two and you have a pretty revealing stat.  At tracks other than Parx, Bowman’s Beast was:

Elsewhere: 34-4-4-4, $122,330

The lifetime record for this 10 year old runner at Parx versus all other tracks was night and day.  Bowman could be expected to improve on the return to Parx, with the return to a fast track for a trainer dynamite with beaten favorites.

The morning line maker at Parx set his odds at 3/1, no doubt because of his familiarity with the Parx horse for the course, but Bowman went off at over 7-1 because of his clouded, recent form.  He cruised to victory, returning a generous $16.60 for his faithful backers.

 

How Technology Reshapes the Horse Racing Industry

Innovation in Betting

As long as there are horse races, there will be eager punters who are keen to back their favourite horses and jockeys. Horse racing wagering is another area of the industry that has significantly changed and improved with modern technology. These days, instead of having to trek to a bookie’s office, punters can place bets at home or on the go thanks to platforms and apps from international online sports betting operators. The advent of mobile technology means that they can get up-to-the-minute racing news, and major events like the Breeders’ Cup are even beginning to broadcast in virtual reality across the globe so that fans will never miss a meeting.

Future Innovations

It may all sound high tech already, but we could see a whole new wave of innovations incorporated into the sport in the coming years. For starters, a team of Australian scientists successfully shod a racehorse with the first ever pair of 3D printed shoes made from titanium. However, it may take some time before this becomes a widespread thing since a horse’s hooves can change every hour and printing one shoe takes several.

Scientists are even becoming involved in the breeding process since it’s well-known within the sport that a mature colt or filly often outperforms those born later in a year within the same age bracket. To that end, Equilume recently designed a mask that will trigger early breeding times in mares, using a blue light to affect their ….

Getting to Know the BCBC Boys – Tournament Players

Nice profile / handicapping piece from a few years ago by Ren Hakim Carothers

We’ve long marketed our sport as that of kings. While this packaging does reflect the money that goes into breeding, training, and running these majestic athletes, heightening the stakes and romanticizing the idea of triumph, it can also convey exclusivity. It’s no wonder why horses with blue collar backstories competing at elite levels have captured the imagination of those outside our industry on more than one occasion. David, meet Goliath.

It’s time that mainstream audiences realized you need not be an owner of a horse, a trainer, or jockey to delight in the spoils of victory. Racing is not merely a spectator sport. It’s interactive. You simply need a ticket -a bet slip- to go along for the ride, and the fact that it’s not just the horses competing for seven figures this weekend puts an exclamation mark on that point.

BCBC Tournament Players

Again, the BCBC Bonus Boys are fascinating. Take Stephen Thompson, who is known as the “Undertaker” on the betting circuit, as an example. He is from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where he’s the owner and licensed director of Thompson Funeral Home, Inc, which was started by his great-grandfather in 1890. He fell in love with racing at the tender age of ten, going to the races with his family, and has won entry into the BCBC seven of the last eight years. Stephen says you get so pumped up in these tournaments, but he has to stay “flatlined” to stay focused, and that, should he win, the first check he’s writing is for $100,000 to benefit retired racehorses. “Without them, we have nothing!”

There are two entrants looking to pull off a BC/BCBC double. David Lanzman was hooked on racing after he and a couple of friends snuck under the fence at Hollywood Park as teenagers, having a security guard place what would be winning bets for them. He realized you could make life-changing scores playing the ponies when, with his $400 rent due and …

Understanding Claiming Prices in Horse Racing

and Why Numbers Can Be Deceiving

As much as numbers don’t lie, they can confuse you.

In claiming races, numbers like 12,500 can have different meanings. Sometimes, horses who run for the same $12,500 claiming price at different tracks can face different levels of competition.

At Aqueduct, for example, a horse racing in a $12,500 claimer is probably facing some of the weakest horses on the grounds. Meanwhile, at Finger Lakes, with a much lower ceiling for claimers, some useful horses could be running for that tag.

And sometimes, $12,500 claiming tags can have different meanings at the same track or circuit…

Thoroughbred Idea Foundation on Panel at 2019 National HBPA Convention

In an effort to continue supporting and promoting Thoroughbred racing and the encompassing industry, the keynote address at the National HBPA’s annual convention in March of 2019 will be a panel of representatives from the recently established Thoroughbred Idea Foundation.

The non-profit Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) was formed earlier this year to create an active forum for the exchange and curation of ideas with the mission of “improving the thoroughbred racing industry for all stakeholders, especially its primary customers — horseplayers and owners — through the exchange, curation and advocacy of sound, data-driven ideas shared with and implemented by the sport’s existing entities,” according to the organization’s website, racingthinktank.com.

The panel is scheduled for March 13, opening day of the three-day Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association Convention at the Sand Key Sheraton Hotel in Clearwater, Fla. Panelists will be board members Craig Bernick, Jack Wolf and Corey Johnsen, along with TIF executive director Patrick Cummings.

Other convention speakers will include Dr. Jennifer Durenberger, founder of the consulting company Racing Matters; economist Dr. Steven Vickner from the University of Louisville College of Business’ equine industry program; Jen Roytz, executive director of the Retired Racehorse Project; as well as a panel discussion led by prominent racing talk-show host Steve Byk on the topic of how the industry can best utilize statistical information in the future.

Details on registration and agenda will be available soon at nationalhbpa.com.

“There are a lot of good things going on in horse racing, a lot of good buzz,” said Eric Hamelback, chief executive officer of the National HBPA. “We want to accentuate positive developments in horse racing, and the purpose of both the HBPA Convention and the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation is to spark dialogue on how to improve our sport.

Thoroughbred Idea Foundation“The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation is committed to putting out productive, well-thought-out ideas that we can all back to make our industry better. There is so much going on that it made sense to have a panel of their representatives — who come from different horse and business backgrounds — rather than just one keynote speaker. This promises to be a can’t-miss session, and I know I can’t wait to hear their thoughts and how we can all work together for positive change that benefits every aspect of our sport.”

TIF does not take money from industry organizations but rather is funded by individuals from a cross-section of the sport. The core belief is that everyone benefits by taking care of owners and bettors.

“Having been on some other industry boards, they can be so large with such large agendas that sometimes it’s hard to focus on specific areas to improve the economics of the business,” said Bernick, TIF’s founder and a prominent owner and breeder through his family’s Glen Hill Farm. “A group that advocates for the financial drivers of the business — owners and horseplayers — to try to improve the sport from an economic standpoint is necessary. They’re just ideas until you can get them implemented. We hope by speaking to the National HBPA that people understand what we’re about, and we’ll be looking to push some of that stuff forward when it makes sense for horsemen. I don’t think we’ll advocate anything that doesn’t make sense for horsemen.”

Bernick is president and chief executive officer of Glen Hill Farm, the Ocala farm founded by his grandfather, the late Leonard Lavin. He’s also managing partner in Elevage Bloodstock, which invests in stallion shares and broodmares, and launched the Breeders’ Cup wagering committee while on that organization’s board. In addition to supporting many thoroughbred charities, Bernick is an officer of the Lavin Family Foundation. He was a business development and marketing executive at Alberto-Culver before going into the thoroughbred business full-time.

Wolf and his wife, Laurie, began Starlight Racing with six yearlings in 2000, one of which developed into Grade 1 winner and major stallion Harlan’s Holiday, and ultimately turned the stable into a partnership that participates at the highest level of the game, including being a minority owner in Triple Crown winner Justify. Wolf, who retired from his work as a hedge-fund manager to concentrate on racing, was the driving force behind launching the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the industry’s first broad-based initiative dedicated to helping retired racehorses.

Corey Johnsen has earned a reputation as one of the country’s premier and most innovative track executives, who with partner Ray Reid turned Kentucky Downs into a major-league player by taking a gamble on instituting historical horse racing to not only help the track but to strengthen the Kentucky circuit. Johnsen also is a horse owner and breeder who started out as a $2 bettor and groom while attending college in Arizona. He was fundamental in the opening of Remington Park and Lone Star Park and currently is involved in the re-opening of Arizona Downs, formerly Prescott Downs. Under Johnsen’s leadership as track president, Kentucky Downs has been named the Horseplayers Association of North America’s top-ranked track for three straight years.

Pat Cummings has been an executive with the Hong Kong Jockey Club and racing technology and data-provider Trakus, as well as a media and communications specialist. An expert in international racing, Cummings covered Dubai for a decade for various media outlets. He also is a partner in racing syndicates in both America and South Africa.

TIF already has issued two white papers: advocating for “penny breakage,” where payoffs are calculated by rounding down to the penny instead of to the dime in most jurisdictions, and adopting nationwide an interference philosophy where a horse or rider who impedes another horse won’t be disqualified and placed behind the impacted horse if the stewards believe the impeded horse would not otherwise have finished ahead of the horse causing the interference. (The paper recommends stiffer jockey sanctions for careless riding in instances where there’s not a DQ.)

Source: Press release

Equestricon Ticket Construction Panel

AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen participated in one of the handicapping panels at the recently concluded 2018 Equestricon conference in Louisville, KY.  Unfortunately, this panel was not videoed, but another one was – the panel on ticket construction.

The following links to the wagering ticket construction panel that was on day 2 of the 2018 Equestricon Conference.  Included on this panel was my friend Mike Maloney, one of the best horseplayers and bettors in the country.

Keeneland News

Keeneland is at the forefront of fan education and this fall will introduce new programming targeting the intermediate fan that further enhances the track’s BETology efforts.

Keeneland Trainer Stats on your Tablet, phone or eReader

Among the new programs are Pop-Up BETology, with Keeneland’s famed BETologists going directly to the fans via a “BET Mobile” golf cart that will invade The Hill tailgate area and parking lots to offer quick BETology sessions. Each race day, Keeneland will present organized short-form BETology 101 and 201 level seminars at 12:05 p.m. and 12:20 p.m, respectively, at Wagering Central. Topics for the beginner or intermediate fan include “The Vocabulary of Betting” and “Understanding Odds”.

Keeneland and Daily Racing Form have collaborated on programming and more advanced materials that target the intermediate bettor. The partnership includes Saturday 201 sessions with a “Play Like a Player” segment about how to read a Form, understand Beyer Speed Figures and more. In addition, Keeneland and the Form have developed materials to guide conversations with BETologists about how to use more advanced handicapping tools.

You can also plug into Keeneland.com and Keeneland’s social media platforms to keep pace with all the racing action and special events fun. Follow Keeneland on Facebook @Keeneland, Instagram @Keeneland and Twitter @KeenelandRacing and @BetKeeneland. Bet from anywhere via your phone with the Keeneland Select app.

Returning this fall is the popular @BetKeeneland on Twitter, an interactive handle that provides horseplayers with real-time handicapping tips and insights while benefiting the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) through its Handicapper of the Day Series. Guest handicappers slated for this fall include Britney Eurton, TVG reporter and part of the NBC Sports Triple Crown broadcast team; Gabby Gaudet, on-air racing analyst for the New York Racing Association and its Fox Sports telecasts; Scott Hazelton, on-air host and reporter for TVG; Richard Migliore, retired jockey and racing and workout analyst for XBTV; Jeff Siegel, noted Southern California handicapper and analyst/on-air host for XBTV; and Steve Sherack, senior editor of Thoroughbred Daily News.

The free Keeneland Race Day App offers a number of options to make your race day more memorable. Among the features available at your fingertips: live streaming of Keeneland races and race replays; entries and results; Expert Picks; special events information and a GPS-enabled interactive map of Keeneland. A Bet Simulator shows you each step in placing a wager, calculating the cost of a bet and projected simple will-pays. App users may also receive exclusive access to daily promotions, contests and giveaways.

Return of popular Pick Fours and Pick Fives

Each race day, Keeneland offers a daily Pick 6 in addition to its early and late Pick Fours and Pick Fives. Highlighting the Fall Meet schedule are a number of Pick Fours and Pick Fives with guaranteed pools:

· $200,000-guaranteed Friday Pick Four Presented by TVG (Fridays, Oct. 5, 12, 19).

· $350,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Four Presented by TVG on Saturday, Oct. 6, on races 7-10: Thoroughbred Club of America, First Lady, Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Shadwell Turf Mile.

· $250,000-guaranteed All-Stakes Pick Five Presented by TVG on Saturday, Oct. 6, on races 6-10: Woodford Presented by Keeneland Select, Thoroughbred Club of America, First Lady, Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity and Shadwell Turf Mile.

· $350,000-guaranteed Pick Four Presented by TVG (Saturday, Oct. 13 and 20).

Source: Keeneland

UofL Equine Business Program Names New Director

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Sean Beirne, an early graduate of the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program in the College of Business, has been named the program’s new director.

Beirne, who has worked in various capacities in the horse racing industry nationwide, has most recently been employed by industry vendor Roberts Communications Network. He was on the Colorado Racing Commission for the past eight years, serving as chairman from July 2015 to June 2017.

Beirne“On Nov. 1, I will begin what I consider to be my ‘dream job,’” Beirne said. “I am thrilled beyond words to receive the opportunity to come back to my alma mater and prepare students to become the future leaders of our great sport of horse racing.”

He replaces Tim Capps, who died following a stroke in April 2017.

Beirne earned his bachelor’s degree from the equine program in 1990. He earned his first undergraduate degree, in political science, from UofL in 1986.

Beirne and his wife, Mary, are both Louisville natives. Mary Beirne graduated from UofL’s School of Nursing.

The Equine Industry Program at UofL is an accredited business degree with an equine focus. Graduates can be found in all aspects of the industry, from training to broadcasting.  Beirne attended the UofL Equine program at the same time as AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen.

For more information, contact Terri Burch, interim director of the Equine Industry Program, at terri.burch@louisville.edu or 502-852-4859.
#WeAreUofL

Beat Saratoga! 8 Tips for Turning a Profit

copyright AGameofSkill.com

8 Tips for Turning a Profit!

UPDATED FOR 2018

Download this free guide "Beat Saratoga: 8 Tips for Turning a Profit" by AGameofSkill.com founder Rich Nilsen and play the 2018 Saratoga meet successfully.  Beating this 40-day meet with so many contentious races is no easy task, even for experienced horseplayers, but the tips in this guide will get you on track to do just that.

15-time NHC Qualifier and 7-time major contest winner Rich Nilsen walks you through the steps required to beat this prestigious race meet.   In "Beat Saratoga: 8 Tips for Turning a Profit" you'll learn:

  • What steps it takes to beat this meet successfully
  • Which jockeys and trainers dominate the Saratoga meet
  • Which 'dark horse' jockeys and trainers you need to know about.  These guys bring home the prices, and one trainer in particular is the King of Saratoga Longshots!
  • How each of the three tracks (dirt and turf) play and how this affects you as a handicapper
  • Plus .... be on the lookout for this one important trend - it occurs every year!

Fill out the short form below to claim your free report "Beat Saratoga!"  You will automatically receive an email with a link to the PDF document that you can download to any device.

The 2018 meet is over.  Check back next summer

The 2018 Travers Stakes Begins in...

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