Building the next generation of handicapping tools for veteran and novice handicappers is the goal of a new partnership announced Aug. 9 between Equibase and STATS, a sports data collection, aggregation, and analysis company.
"The question is what do we do with this vast amount of data," said Bill Squadron, executive vice president of strategic relationships for STATS during a presentation at The Jockey Club's 63rd Annual Round Table Conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. "How do we use it in ways that create value and visualize it in ways that are meaningful? You don't want to just have a fire hose of data coming at you that doesn't make any sense. Our systems allow you to filter the data, which is the centerpiece of our agreement with Equibase."
Equibase is a partnership between the subsidiaries of The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America that manages the Thoroughbred industry's official racing information database.
"We are really excited to have a company like STATS come into the sport," said Hank Zeitlin, president and chief operating officer of Equibase. "STATS is really good with big data, and we see the commonalities with comparing performance on the field with performance on the racetrack."
The analytical side of STATS was acquired from the Bloomberg financial information company, which decided to apply many of its financial market analytics to sports data. Bloomberg Sports was acquired by STATS in September 2014 and then STATS got acquired by the Vista Equity Partners venture capital group, according to Squadron. Vista's goal was to aggregate the leading data analytics companies under the STATS banner. These acquisitions include Prozone, a soccer analytics company that has a database on more than 100,000 players and collects data from 12,000 events annually; Automated Insights, which has technology to convert massive quantities of data into normal narrative language; and TVTI, a leading video engineering company.
These combined resources will help create and grow new handicapping systems that will be more compelling and more engaging for both veterans and novices, according to Squadron.
"The real focus is to customize the tools to allow our data scientists to build projections on how a race will be run and weight different values, but also to give the horseplayer control," he said. "Veteran horseplayers all believe they have certain theories and views that they've build over time. If you build a system that allows them to apply their theories to a base that is very strong, then you have a tool that really takes things to the next level."
STATS is in the early stages of a prototype system that would allow the user to customize the formatting of the data and allow for "deep dives" into the database for quick and efficient analysis, according to Squadron.
"We want a next-generation tool," he said. "They will have the ability to back-test their theories against a whole range of races to see how the theory really plays through. They can then identify the most playable races across the country."