Thursday, 2 October 2014

Racing Has Information Problems

As bettors, the most important thing we can have is accurate information. If you are going to make a wager, you need to have good info to make intelligent decisions on how you will play a race. Racing has a duty to its customers to give them the best information possible.

     Racing isn't doing a particularly great job.

     Over the summer Santa Anita resurfaced their main track with a new surface composed mostly of sand. It is very different than the previous dirt surface. But, when you crack open a racing form...
Yard Line is the morning line favourite in Friday's 8th race. His record over the Santa Anita surface is 4-1-2-1 with a 101 Beyer. The catch is, none of his runs at Santa Anita came over the current surface. For all I know, he will dislike the new sandy surface and race poorly. If a bettor does not know about the surface change, he/she may make his/her decision to bet on Yard Line based on his terrific record over the surface, and it could work against him/her. I'm by no means trying to say Yard Line will lose, I'm just using this as an example. This horse does NOT have a record of 4-1-2-1 over the current Santa Anita surface as the past performances would have you believe. He has a record of 0-0-0-0 over the surface. The past performances do NOTHING to inform the bettor that this is a new surface. Racing is treating this as "dirt is dirt and who cares if it's not the same." Who cares is a problematic attitude.

     Keeneland also did a change in surface over the summer. They tore out their all-weather Polytrack surface and switched it out for a conventional dirt surface. I figured that since these are literally completely different surfaces, there was no way that this mistake could have been made. So I opened my Keeneland form, and lo-and-behold...
Brand new surface. No more all-weather, we're back to dirt. But apparently, Hunting Hill here has made three starts over this track and grabbed a runner up finish. This is just blatantly false. This isn't even giving the public bad information, this might as well be lying. No horse has made a start over the Keeneland surface, so why are we still giving this stat? If it weren't for the little "all-weather" symbol in the running lines, the form would not give any indicators that anything had changed at all. And it's not just the DRF that's giving this stat. Here's a shot from Brisnet.
Southern Honey is one for one over the Keeneland dirt apparently. Speedinthruthecity failed to hit the board in two tries over the Keeneland dirt. This is entirely accurate information that the public can rely on. Not.

     There is one past performance distributor that hasn't screwed up the Keeneland information, however. Equibase has it right.
Conquest Tsunami is the only runner in the Breeder's Futurity who raced over the Keeneland polytrack, but Equibase is telling you he hasn't made a start over the current Keeneland surface, because he hasn't. This is the factual information that racing should be distributing to bettors.

     The Daily Racing Form and Brisnet have no excuse for this. I don't know how nobody caught this and thought to say "maybe we shouldn't publish this the way it is." But this is racing. Things never seem to be done properly. It's unfortunate and endlessly frustrating, but like I said, this is racing.

    If you're a bettor, you'd best be careful trusting what you read. It's as simple as that. We have a problem giving you truthful information.


  1. Been using equibase for years. I'd say the form and brisnet don't have enough respect for players to get it right.

  2. I used Equibase exclusively when I followed the 2012-2013 Sunland meet and I picked 25% winners. They are solid PPs that get undeserved flack. I still use them for a lot of quarter horse handicapping.