A new digital handicapping platform that launched July 17 promises to help average horse players become more engaged and assist experienced punters with some of the statistical "heavy lifting" required to spot winners.
Called TimeformUS, the new handicapping service takes a fresh approach by being optimized for tablets and by offering a number of analytical tools that make the myriad of handicapping statistics available more digestible and useable.
"For a lot of people, when you hand them a track program, you are asking them to crack a code they are not going to take the time to crack," said Marc Attenberg, founder of the start-up company Real Time Racing that created TimeformUS.
In the early stages of development, Attenberg reached out to Timeform in Europe because he said it is the best-in-class provider of speed figures overseas. The relationship grew until Timeform wound up owning a minor part of the product and now has a platform to introduce the quality of its brand to the U.S. market.
"Our speed figures are harmonized with the Timeform global scale," Attenberg said. "It is the first time that anyone has harmonized with a global speed figure. When Breeders' Cup rolls around, and even before with the preps that will draw shippers from overseas, you have a past performance product that should give you a strong understanding of those European horses."
Some of the key features within the TimeformUS past performance product is a Pace Projector, which displays graphically the likely position of each horse in the field after a quarter-mile. The main page for each race also displays prominently the company's spotlight speed figures for each horse entered.
"We give the speed figures away as a means to get people into the races," Attenberg said. "Our feeling is that they are a piece of the puzzle, so give them away to get people into the races and engaged."
In addition to offering better tools, TimeformUS's team is committed to continually improving those tools.
"For us this is about perpetual refinement and perpetual release," said Attenberg, who was head of product development when he left Daily Racing Form in 2011 to start this venture. "However the existing product looks in July, by the time you get to Breeders' Cup we will have introduced new features. We will continually be honing what we do...just like the horse player."
Other features to come will include pedigree ratings and trainer ratings on a 100-point scale. The pedigree rating will reflect the success of other progeny produced by a runner's sire and dam at the type of race being handicapped—for example, the speed ratings generated by all progeny that ran a one-mile race on the grass. For trainers, instead of showing the win percentage for a second start off a layoff, the trainer's success will be rated on the 100-point scale.
"We'll simply show that he's a 91, for instance," Attenberg said. "Our goal is to take all this disparate information and distill it down. We want to help people understand races more quickly and help the more experienced people who want to understand handicapping deeper."