HISA Establishes Next Generation Advisory Group

January 16, 2024 (Lexington, KY) – The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) has established a Next Generation Advisory Group that will be made up of individuals in the early to mid-stages of their professional careers and will provide feedback to HISA’s executive team and standing committees on the implementation and evolution of HISA’s regulations and protocols. HISA is inviting anyone who wishes to be considered for membership in the Advisory Group to submit an application indicating their interest and qualifications by February 9, 2024.

“Establishing a Next Generation Advisory Group was an easy decision for HISA. We are safeguarding racing for generations to come by focusing on implementing rules and regulations to make racing safer and fairer for all involved,” said HISA CEO Lisa Lazarus. “We welcome the feedback and perspectives of this Next Generation Advisory Group who will surely act as excellent advocates for preserving the sport’s future.”

The Next Generation Advisory Group will be co-chaired by Mackenzie Kirker-Head, HISA Communications and Design Manager, and Brandon Badgett, Director of Strategy at Jahnel Group. HISA Assistant General Counsel Sam Reinhardt will act as Secretary, and Alexa Ravit, Horseracing Integrity & Welfare Unit (HIWU) Director of Communications & Outreach, will act as HIWU Liaison. HISA is looking to select a diverse group of 10-12 individuals who bring a wide range of experience in horse racing, related industries and innovation to join the Advisory Group and help advise HISA’s executive team and standing committees going forward.

Questions about HISA’s Next Generation Advisory Group should be submitted to Mackenzie Kirker-Head at Mackenzie.KirkerHead@hisaus.org. More information about the group and expectations of members can be found here.

 

About the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority

When the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act was signed into federal law, it charged the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA) with drafting and enforcing uniform safety and integrity rules in Thoroughbred racing in the U.S. Overseen by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), HISA is implementing, for the first time, a national, uniform set of rules applicable to every Thoroughbred racing participant and racetrack facility. HISA is comprised of two programs: the Racetrack Safety Program, which went into effect on July 1, 2022, and the Anti-Doping and Medication Control (ADMC) Program, which went into effect on May 22, 2023.

The Racetrack Safety Program includes operational safety rules and national racetrack accreditation standards that seek to enhance equine welfare and minimize equine and jockey injury. The Program expands veterinary oversight, imposes surface maintenance and testing requirements, enhances jockey safety, regulates riding crop use and implements voided claim rules, among other important measures.

The ADMC Program includes a centralized testing and results management process and applies uniform penalties for violations efficiently and consistently across the United States. These rules and enforcement mechanisms are administered by an independent agency, the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit (HIWU), established by Drug Free Sport International (DFS). HIWU oversees testing, educates stakeholders on the Program, accredits laboratories, investigates potential ADMC violations and prosecutes any such violations.

Kentucky Derby Telecast Ranks Higher Than Two Major Sports

“Many around the sports world are well aware that the NFL is king when it comes to viewership in the United States. Based on a latest report on the 2022 Nielsen ratings data by Sportico, that continued to be the case last year.

The NFL accounted for 82 of the 100 most-watched U.S. TV broadcasts in 2022, according to the report. That smashes the previous record of 75 out of 100, a mark that the NFL reached in 2021.

Other broadcast subject categories were able to break through, but not nearly at the rate that NFL was…”

What is interesting is that the Kentucky Derby telecast ranked higher than any event from two major sports – the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

Check out the complete story

 

What’s Happening with Racinos in Chicago?

Fans at Hawthorne racecourse. Fans at Hawthorne racecourseMore than three years after Hawthorne Race Course was authorized to add casino gambling, not a single card has been dealt nor a coin dropped in the slots. The $400 million combination horse racetrack and casino, or “racino,” was supposed to have opened in 2021.

Workers even started initial demolition work at the track, which shut down the grandstand. Track officials maintain the project is coming soon, but construction has yet to begin, leaving racing and casino fans alike scratching their heads.

In the meantime, other ventures have gotten the go-ahead for new casinos in Chicago, Waukegan, East Hazel Crest and Danville. Temporary casinos were…  continued from the Chicago Tribune

Big Data Derby Winner of Horse Racing Analytics Contest Announced

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) today announced that a team led by Brendan Kumagai has been selected as the winner of the inaugural Big Data Derby competition. Kumagai, together with Gurashish Bagga, Kimberly Kroetch, Tyrel Stokes, and Liam Welsh, took the $20,000 first prize with the submission, “Bayesian Velocity Models for Horse Race Simulation.”

Kumagai’s team created a dynamic model that focused on horses’ forward versus lateral speed, and examined the results of sustained momentum and velocity within races. The team also studied jockey performance and how that would impact a horse’s running style. Another conclusion in the study posited that with additional biometric data, it would be possible to calculate a horse’s welfare and injury probability.

“We’re honored to be named the winners of the inaugural Big Data Derby competition,” said Kumagai. “Our team primarily works in financial analytics and hockey statistics, so working with horse racing data has been a unique challenge which allowed us to apply our skills to a relatively new and unexplored domain.”

The Big Data Derby was launched with the goal of analyzing the vast amounts of data available to racing organizations, and to understand how the results of those studies could impact traditional methods of racing and training. The competition was sponsored by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Equibase, The Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

Related Article about the Horse Racing Analytics Contest winner

A total of 106 submissions were received for the inaugural Big Data Derby. 9,349 potential competitors accessed the competition’s four data files over the course of the competition. A wide and varied range of submissions offered models that shed light on injury prevention, jockey decision making metrics, race tactics, track bias and more.

An open notebook of user-created content and data can be viewed at: https://www.kaggle.com/competitions/big-data-derby….

“Our main objective with this competition was to usher in an age of technological innovation analyzing horse racing data to suggest improvements in vital topics such as equine performance and welfare,” said NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum. “The enthusiastic response from this community suggests that our tradition-bound sport could benefit by applying knowledge gained from machine learning.”

Kumagai, a Data Science intern at Zelus Analytics, was previously part of a team that won the 2022 Big Data Bowl offered by the National Football League.

The Big Data Derby offered a total of $50,000 in prize money with $20,000 awarded to the winner and $10,000 each to the next three placings. The competition was held on Kaggle, a global data science platform with over 500,000 active users where participants compete by using machine learning to solve problems ranging from the trivial to the extremely complex.

The runners-up included Kyle King’s submission “Track Bias,” which explained the calculation of a track bias metric. Timothy Leung and Philip Leung offered “Advanced Horse Race Tactics Using Coordinate Data,” which examined the impact of drafting percentage, path efficiency, race strategy and speed fluctuation. Artem Volgin and Ekaterina Melianova submitted “Winning Strategies: What Works Better,” a study of jockey tactics and race flow.

“Data science can have a profound impact on a number of different aspects of horse racing,” said Joe Longo, GM of NYRA Content Management Services. “It can be applied to enhance our understanding of equine health and safety or day-to-day training methods by providing a new toolkit to even the most knowledgeable racing participants. NYRA is committed to embracing this pursuit moving forward.”

The competition was judged by data analyst Rob Bingel, Rhodes College Economics Professor, avid horseplayer and thoroughbred owner Marshall Gramm, and Craig Milkowski of TimeformUS.

“What came across loud and clear in reviewing all of the presentations was a passion for quantitative analysis and a learning curiosity that was piqued by the intricacies that the data-rich world of horse racing has to offer,” said Bingel, a financial planner and racing data analyst. “This competition served as a valuable introduction of the data scientist community to NYRA/NYTHA and holds the promise for future collaboration. The solutions proposed by the entrants, especially the winners, naturally leads to thoughts about what future important questions they could so capably answer.”

The 2022 fall meet at Aqueduct Racetrack continues through Saturday, December 31. For additional information, and the complete stakes schedule, visit www.NYRA.com.

Source: NYRA

Overflow Field for the Big Data Derby

Horse Racing NFT-game OHRAC: Own, Manage And WinA total of 106 submissions were received for the inaugural Big Data Derby, a competition requiring entrants to provide a machine-learning model to analyze all manner of data regarding horseracing tactics, strategies and path efficiencies.

Sponsored by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) and the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) in partnership with the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, Equibase, The Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), the Big Data Derby launched with a goal of better understanding the vast data set at hand to racing organizations, and to potentially develop new ways of racing and training in a highly traditional industry.

“Our main objective with this competition was to see if qualified data scientists could utilize horse-tracking data to improve the sport’s collective knowledge in key areas such as equine welfare and performance,” said NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum.

The Big Data Derby offers a total of $50,000 in prize money with $20,000 awarded to the winner and $10,000 each to the next three placings. The competition is held on Kaggle, a global data science platform with over 500,000 active users where participants compete by using machine learning to solve problems ranging from the trivial to the extremely complex.

A total of 9,349 potential competitors accessed the competition’s four data files providing NYRA racing data from 2019 along with in-race horse tracking information. A wide and varied range of submissions offered models that shed light on injury prevention, jockey decision making metrics, race tactics, track bias and more. An open notebook of user-created content and data can be viewed at: https://www.kaggle.com/competitions/big-data-derby-2022/code.

“The response in both participants and submissions highlights the interest in alternative data sets and bodes well for potential future applications. We are very much looking forward to the results of the competition,” said Joe Longo, NYRA’s General Manager of Content Services.

A judging committee will score the submissions based on four categories – Innovation [25 points], Relevance [30 points], Competence [25 points] and Presentation [20 points]. Winners will be announced in early December.

Source: NYRA

After Decades of Decline, Nebraska Horse Racing Relying on Racinos

The year was 1979. The location: Aksarben racetrack in Omaha. This was a time when horserace betting could draw thousands of spectators, many visiting from out of state. Kotulak said he was blown away.

“When the horses came to town and left, my mother had talked enough sense into me to say: ‘You are going to stay right here and you’re going to finish your schooling,’” Kotulak said with a laugh.

Since the 1980s, the sport has lost popularity in the state and country. Nationally, over the past five years, the industry shrunk by an average of 8.4% – with profits declining by 24%.

In Nebraska, the state has gone from around 100 thoroughbred race days in 2001 to half that by 2021. Aksarben, the one-time crown jewel of Nebraska racing, was demolished in 2005. Now, the area it’s a mixture of businesses and apartments.

Of the six remaining licensed horse racetracks in Nebraska, Fonner Park is by far the largest. Built in 1954, it…

What Happened to South Florida’s Calder Race Course?

Florida Racing Prepares To Say Goodbye To CalderCalder Race Course was a beautiful facility in South Florida, which ran a healthy part of the racing calendar.  Known for its deep, sandy course, Calder featured many great horses over the years.  One of those was Lost In The Fog, the great sprinter who I got to see in my only visit to the track.  Unfortunately, for this Florida horse track, it was purchased by Churchill Downs and turned into a racino. Under their guidance, it would suffer the same fate as other racetrack purchased by the Louisville ‘horse racing company – spectacular tracks like Hollywood Park and most recently, Arlington Park.

So what is now happening to the former parcel that Calder sat on? According to TheRealDeal.com Link Logistics paid $291 million for Calder’s former horse racing track and surrounding property, with plans for an industrial complex and movie studios in Miami Gardens.

A New York-based company, Link Logistics purchased the 115.7-acre site from an affiliate of Calder Casino’s parent company, Louisville, Kentucky-based Churchill Downs, according to records…

What Happened to South Florida’s Calder Race Course?

Horse racing in Nebraska?

Atokad Park holds first horse races of the year and looks ahead to future plansHorse races are regularly held in only two spots in Nebraska, and the tracks in Grand Island and Columbus are usually pretty quiet apart from the rumble of thoroughbreds that stomp past the half-empty grandstands.

Suddenly, though, communities throughout the state are clamoring to revive mothballed tracks and build new ones.

Why the surge in interest in a sport that for decades has waned throughout the country?

In a word, casinos.

“All of a sudden you have a bunch of communities who don’t give a darn about horses saying, ‘Hey, we love horses!’” said Pat Loontjer…

For an industry that for years has struggled to attract any interest, the sudden embrace of the sport has led to plenty of eye-rolling and more serious concerns about even finding enough jockeys, exercise riders and veterinarians to hold races, never mind whether spectators will actually show up.

Nationally, the sport has been in decline for decades. The number of race days has fallen by almost 40% in the last 20 years. Omaha’s once-popular Ak-Sar-Ben (“Nebraska” spelled backwards) racetrack closed in 1995. Given that, proposals for nearly a dozen tracks has annoyed even some racing supporters…

More on horse racing in Nebraska

New Data Collections and Applications in Horse Racing

ProfitDuring a presentation at Wednesday’s Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit, Duff Gordon presented a chart showing the acceleration and speed of a horse during the race, and how it was impeded by the winner.

“You can see how that horse in blue, how much its velocity was cut off,” said Duff Gordon, pointing to the marked deceleration of a beaten runner at the time of The Ridler’s antics.

“That’s a much better way of telling the story rather than running the replay 700 times, which is what the TV companies have done to date,” said Duff Gordon. “The stewards can’t yet use that information,” he added, “but hopefully they will soon.”

“This is a new frontier,” said Scott Palmer, equine medical director for the New York Gaming Commission, about the StrideSAFE sensor, which TDN has written [in the past].

Nevertheless, the panelists emphasized how, in many regards, the stamp from data collection on the racing world is still very much a fresh one.

More on new data collections and applications in horse racing:

Data, Data, Data: The “New Frontier” for Horse Racing

What You Need to Know about HISA

The Horseracing Safety and Integrity Authority, HISA for short, is set to take effect on July 1 when racetrack safety standards begin. That will be followed by the anti-doping and medication control component on Jan. 1, 2023.

Combined the two are a monumental step forward for an industry finally under one governing body thanks to the HISA act backed by Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Andy Barr, R-Ky., and signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020.

Finally, thankfully, the sport will no longer be undercut by competing jurisdictions with different rules and regulations. No longer will there be confusion brought about by inconsistent guidelines and messaging.

Lisa Lazarus is the new person in charge. An attorney from New York, HISA’s chief executive officer boasts an impressive international sports background, most recently as chief counsel for the Fédération Equestre Internationale and before that a decade with the NFL where she was involved with strategy and development as well as collective bargaining negotiations…

Horses and connections — including trainers, jockeys and owners — must be registered with HISA by July 1. If the deadline is not met, horses could be scratched from races. The registrations will result in daily records of a horse’s conditioning and medications for review.

The body is also building a database of detailed injury reports on horses and jockeys. It is also in the process of reaching agreements with state racing commissions, who will enforce HISA rules. For example, accreditation will be required for tracks wanting to participate in interstate simulcasting.