The future of advanced analytics in North American Thoroughbred horse racing could be incredibly brighter if the data monopoly run by Equibase was loosened. Still, dedicated specialists latch on to whatever information they can attain and power through. An event in the works for 2021, as well as a webinar series, could bring the movement a step forward.

Stu Slagle, a long-time racing official in the U.S. and Canada, is organizing the first Racing Analytics Conference, likely to be conducted virtually, in the spring of 2021.

“We have to start somewhere,” Slagle says, “and the purpose is to discuss the practical applications of racing analytics for horseplayers and horsepeople.

“Through individual contacts and networking, we have collated a series of interested individuals who want to share findings, discuss commonalities and start taking this to the next level.”

But until then, Slagle is getting the ball rolling with CAROT – Convos About Racing On Tuesday – “an aperiodic Zoom-based horse racing analytics webinar series,” debuting Tuesday, October 27.

Slagle spent years in Canada, working at both Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver and at Woodbine in Toronto. He has been inspired by the grassroots growth of the hockey analytics community, including the evolution of HANIC, or Hockey (Analytics) Night In Canada, a regular gathering of the stats set to discuss these topics, sharing information, methods and best practices.

HANIC co-founder Meghan Chayka revealed this week they plan to offer a HANIC gathering on racing in September.

“There are so many gatherings and interactions on these topics done in other sports and the only way to grow this in racing is to just plow forward on our own and start. What was once a real niche for rabid hockey and soccer fans, and of course baseball, has blossomed into a growing and powerful segment of major sports franchises.”

Topics for presentations already confirmed include the following:

- Machine Learning View of Horse Auctions

- Pari-mutuel Modeling Applications to Bettor Information

- ELO Ratings Methodology Applied to South Korean Racing

- Analysis and Visualization of Racing Data with Tableau

Slagle hopes that interested participants reach out to him via Twitter @ovals to connect and discuss more about what is, hopefully, the start of a more organized future for advanced racing analytics.

Racing in North America might not offer, at least for now, easily accessible data for use by the public. But this isn’t stopping the analytics community entirely from trying to evolve despite the industry-imposed hardships, and it might even help Equibase identify quality talent which could help transform the business. 


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