Wednesday, November 2, 2016

This is stupid. Even for horse racing.

UPDATE: So, they found a way to "work it out". Kinda.

TVG will now get to show the undercard races. They still can't broadcast from onsite.

The fact that this was even an issue is still absurd but, hey, we need at least a couple of "the racing industry has it's head buried in the sand" moments every year. Right?


I'm going to make this quick because I have handicapping to finish up, but yesterday the Paulick Report published this little gem: Marketing Deal Blocks TVG From Televising Breeders' Cup Undercard.

Long story short: TwinSpires and the Breeders' Cup negotiated some kind of deal which excludes TVG from not only broadcasting any of the undercard races on Friday and Saturday from Santa Anita, but they can't even broadcast from the track itself during the day - even if they aren't showing races. [I mean, of course they did. Of course it's CDI. Are we even surprised anymore?]

Think about what that means and then think about other sports in this country. Perhaps think about tonight's Game 7 of the World Series between the Cubs and Indians. FOX has broadcasting rights but other networks and stations will broadcast from the stadium in the hours leading up to the game. Just as is the case for every major sport in America.

Why is it that we are always talking about horse racing as the sport that's out of step with every sport in America? I mean, come on, guys, it's not that freaking hard.

If TVG can't show the actual Breeders' Cup races (like last year), I think that's fine. But excluding them from the undercard AND from broadcasting onsite? Absurd. And this is happening just so an ADW can continue its pissing match with TVG. Plus, video streams of races on TwinSpires are typically of poor quality (they could learn something from XBTV, which is freaking awesome.)

TVG might not be in HD, but the stream quality on TwinSpires is decidedly worse. So, "Yay, Horse Racing" - you've once again found away to reduce and degrade coverage of a signature event.

By the way, this isn't about whether you like TVG or not. Fact is, TVG is the only dedicated horse racing channel on TV in America. To negotiate a deal that excludes the only dedicated horse racing channel in America from on-site coverage of the Breeders' Cup is beyond incompetent. This goes to the Breeders' Cup, as well. I place most of the blame at TwinSpires, given they probably asked for the "exclusivity" in exchange for their sponsorship. But the Breeders' Cup should not be entering into deals which restrict and reduce coverage of the event.

But, again, are we even surprised any more?

One last thought: thank God I'm flying down to LA to go to the Breeders' Cup in person this year cause I certainly don't want to give TwinSpires a dime more of my play. I'm not a whale in any shape or form, so I'm sure TwinSpires won't miss my action. But I'm not a $20 weekend player, either.

Oh wait: NYRA Bets recently became active for Washington state residents. I signed up this morning.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Racing Industry still out in left field with regards to data. In other news: the earth is round.

In an article over at the Paulick Report today, Jason Wilson, the President and COO of Equibase, answered a series of questions regarding the racing data and distribution company -  its history and where it’s heading in the future. One of the questions posed to Mr. Wilson involved the high price of data within the horse racing industry and the comparison to the very large amount of free data generated by the major sports in America. Mr. Wilson’s response, while noble in effort, completely missed the mark and, in several instances, was an inaccurate portrait of the current data landscape in American sports. It’s a very good and interesting interview and, if you haven’t read it, I urge you to click on over to the Paulick Report and take it in.

To be clear up front, I find the quantity, format and price of historical horse racing data to be not only completely out of line, but also a great hindrance to growing the sport itself. Additionally, the mere fact that the sport of horse racing depends on gambling dollars yet charges large sums to download basic information is completely backwards and counterproductive. I wrote a piece roughly a year ago regarding this issue in which I brought up a couple of the points discussed in today’s article.

So let’s get right down to brass tacks: here’s the key question from the interview in which racing data, and the value therein, is discussed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Crunching Numbers Part II: Delving into the results

Okay, I'm finally ready for Part Deux of the Crunching Numbers series. In the first part I summarized my database and the three ratings I calculated from those numbers - Horse Rating, Race Rating, and the Harper Rating (Horse/Race Power Rating), which combines the Horse Rating and the Race Rating. In this installment, I'll take a look at races and horses that rated highly since 2013, as well as look at some of the divisions (including this year's 3yo Colts) and how the ratings viewed those performances. The numbers (median, average, overall range) have changed slightly since my last entry due to additional data from the last few weeks. But, for the most part, the order or races hasn't changed.

Out of all the races in the sample (Jan 2013 to today), the 2014 BC Classic rated as the top Race Rating, followed by the 2013 BC Classic, 2013 Whitney, 2015 BC Sprint, and 2015 Whitney.

2014 BC Classic
2013 BC Classic
2013 Whitney
2015 BC Sprint
2015 Whitney

Given the way I put together these ratings, any race in which the winner puts up a big number across all figure/ratings systems AND where the top three finishers were closely bunched at the wire, will rate very high. Both the 2013 and 2014 Classics were photo finishes where the top three finishers all received high figures, which is why those two races occupy the exacta in the Race Ratings category.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Crunching Numbers: Developing Race and Power Ratings (Part I)

This is Part 1 of a multi-part series. I don't know how many parts... as many as I come up with.

Over the past year I’ve been working on a graded stakes database and a system for rating horses and the strength of individual races. It’s been a bear of a project because it involves a crapload of manual data entry, along with constant/weekly updates since the ratings change as more data is added to the population.  The database includes the top three finishers from every graded stakes race in North America since January of 2013, along with the field size, finish margins, an assortment of speed and pace figures, and other assorted ratings.

Piggybacking on my post from the other day, speed figures, pace figures, and ratings capture different elements of the performance of a horse in a specific race. A speed figure highlights the final time given the relative speed of the track; a pace figure describes the shape of the race, a rating incorporating weight views the performance of the horse in relation to the other horses in the race, and on and on and on. I like to look at all of those factors but wanted to try and come up with a way to represent performances across the entire spectrum of stakes race. Additionally, I wanted a rating that would change over time given the relative strength or weakness of subsequent races. Those goals led me to this database project.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Songbird v. Mor Spirit: Tale of the Figure Tape

Nothing seems to cause the hair on the back of the necks of horseplayers to rise up in anger more than a horse receiving a speed figure higher or lower than what they "think" that horse actually earned.

Want to start an on-line fight (or, god forbid, a Twitter War)? Simply develop a speed figure or some kind of horse rating system and then rate a horse that somebody else likes lower than a horse that said person doesn't doesn't think much of at all. Like moths to the flame, the invariable "that figure is too [high, low, insane, etc.]! will pour forth from the masses.

Why this arguing occurs, other than the fact that horse players just love to argue, I'll never know. Any handicapper that knows anything about constructing speed figures, or any kind of rating system, should understand that these figures are as much about art as they are science. [And if you don't, simply spend a few months calculating your own figures. At some point in the process you'll have to make a judgement call (most likely due to your variant) and the "art" part of the endeavor will be on full display.] Which leads me to the topic of this post, the Tale of the Figure Tape between Songbird and Mor Spirit following their respective victories at Santa Anita on Saturday, February 6th.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Equibase to partner with STATS: What will this mean, if anything, to horseplayers?

One of the bigger pieces of news from this weekend's 63rd annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was the announcement that Equibase, "The Supreme Gatekeeper of All Racing Data", and STATS LLC, a data and content company with ties to the NFL, MLB, NBA, etc., entered into a "strategic partnership to develop products and services for horesplayers." (H/T The Paulick Report). While this partnership sounds exciting, especially if it might lead to a freeing of the ridiculously guarded racing data, color me skeptical as to whether this will actually improve the lives of horseplayers.

If I were to ever compose a manifesto of what I would do if I was Supreme Lord of Horse Racing, right up at the very beginning of my absurdly long document would be a topic labeled simply "Unshackle The Results."

Monday, July 27, 2015

"Um, a little quick on the button, eh, starter?"

I had a really good day playing Del Mar on Sunday. I wish the starter was a little less anxious to get this race under way (or could, you know, count to NINE) cause my day might have turned out a bit better.