Announcing Horse Racing Datasets
By Dana Byerly
“…lots of fun can be had playing with the data looking for all kinds of funky angles.”
– o_crunk, 2010
We’ve been interested in horse racing datasets, and their unfortunate lack of availability, for some time. It’s a time-honored tradition for horseplayers to compile datasets for personal use, but it’s less common for them to share those datasets. Obviously this is logical, given that horse racing is a parimutuel game–why share a potential edge?
But there are some gems of compiled data out there, and given the scarcity and value of such generously shared datasets, we’re making them a little easier to find.
In a recent post where we were able to use a dataset compiled by a fellow player, we noted this:
“As handicappers and analysts, we’re all grudgingly used to the fact that we don’t live in an open data ecosystem, or even a closed data one where we can, for a reasonable price, easily grab data in a convenient and modifiable form to use for non-commercial purposes such as handicapping or blog posts meant to share insights and information. Yes, one can download text files from various PP vendors but I wouldn’t count the prices as affordable (e.g., $700-$800 for text files of charts for the year for personal use) and I also wouldn’t count the format as easy to use, especially when comparing to file formats like the ones found at Tennis-Data.co.uk, for example.”
We believe that the game would be better, and ultimately more enticing to data nerds, if horse racing information were easier to access as raw data at a reasonable price.
On November 1, 2009, we launched the first version of Hello Race Fans, a site dedicated to educating both new and existing fans by providing information on handicapping and wagering, and on the history and pleasures of the game. At the time, few online resources existed for people who were interested in learning more about Thoroughbred horse racing.
Just over five years later, the landscape has changed; you’ll find no shortage of ways to learn about handicapping, wagering and horse racing history online. Whether you’re looking to sharpen your skills or help a friend take those first steps towards understanding how to place a wager, you don’t have to work very hard to track down meaningful, useful information. And it’s not just independent publishers such as ourselves who have taken up the charge. The industry itself has realized the importance of helping people engage more deeply with racing and has allocated plenty of resources and budget to do so.
We’re happy to continue to play our part. We still believe in fan education, and we also believe that the data-rich landscape of racing lends itself to making sure that information is widely available and easy to use. With this in mind we created Horse Racing Data Sets, to make it a tiny bit easier to find what’s already out there. And just like with fan education, we hope the industry will follow suit and become committed to a more open data ecosystem over the next five or so years.