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

NTRA Making Progress on Credit Card Issues in Horse Racing

Washington DCThe National Thoroughbred Racing Association expects to soon announce specific banks that will recognize credit card transactions used to deposit money at account-deposit wagering (ADW) online outlets.

Source: NTRA Making Progress on Credit Card Issues

South Dakota-Based Bet Rebate Company Files For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A South Dakota-based telephone wagering and off-track betting company catering to high-end horseplayers seeking rebates has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection after losing a lengthy legal battle with the National Indian Gaming Commission and the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, a former business partner.

Source: South Dakota-Based Bet Rebate Company Files For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Join this Horseplayer in Handicapping Woodbine

By Art Parker

One of the things that simulcasting and Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) gave horseplayers was the opportunity to broaden our horizons. When simulcasting came around we were able to stay at our home track and play a couple of other tracks from around the country. The simulcast menu at most tracks has grown to the point where plenty of track options are available everyday you walk in the door. ADW extended the opportunity since most ADW companies do their best to offer any track that is running.

In case you haven’t played Woodbine, the premier track in Canada. then consider what the Toronto track offers.

Woodbine currently has the lowest take out on straight bets in North America. That’s very enticing, particularly if you also get rebates on your wagers. Along the player-friendly lines, Woodbine offers a 20 cents minimum on trifectas, superfectas, pick 3s and pick4s…the door is open to everyone on the exotics wagering menu. Plus, the pick 4s have guaranteed minimum pools every day.

The Woodbine meet is long, starting in April and finishing in mid-December. It is a great track for keeping records and being acclimated to everyday play. The track offers racing almost every Wednesday with a card consistent in quality with its normal daytime cards. The quality of racing at Woodbine is very good and, even though many of the stakes are restricted to Canadian bred runners, Woodbine has a very good stakes program, including quite a few graded events that always give the player a big race to look forward to.  A perfect example is this Sunday (July 7) with the $1 Million Queen’s Plate card.

The surfaces at Woodbine are excellent. The layout is unique since the main track is located inside the turf course. The Polytrack has performed well with its consistency and safety.

For the player that wants to have a track that is on the ball and providing plenty of information, then Woodbine is your track. I’m convinced the track has the best commentary and analysis in the racing world. Excellent commentary before the card begins, with analysis before each race that also includes a paddock analysis. When you put this together with an excellent audio/visual system then you have a horse player’s dream. Woodbine also does a great job with its website where information available to the player is far more in-depth than at most track websites.

I believe Woodbine is, indeed, the true “Player’s Track.” Take a look at Woodbine.  Check it out the next time you play the horses. I think you will wind up agreeing with me.

— Art Parker  is the author of “Keeneland Winning Trainer Patterns.”  Art keeps detailed trainer notes on both Keeneland and Woodbine racing.  His Keeneland publication comes out every spring and fall here at AGameofSkill.com

Texas Racing Commission needs to Wake Up

State of TexasOnline wagering is the only growth segment of the horse racing industry.  Most of us with experience within the equine industry understand that. Now, one of the most important states in the nation is trying to do their part to destroy it.

Learn more about the wonderful plans of the Texas Racing Commission.