The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) has published a new white paper pushing the thought-provoking concept of offering free horse racing data in order to drive participation in betting on the sport. The idea is pitched directly at Equibase, an organization that serves as a partnership between the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America (TRA) and The Jockey Club. Currently, dividends accrued by Equibase are split between the two groups in a 67% – 33% fashion, respectively.  

The paper contains four key recommendations for Equibase to consider: providing free raw data feeds for registered, non-commercial users; offering free basic past performances on all North American tracks; the provision of responsive channels to regularly address errors and omissions in the data; and partnering with universities to study racing data, developing new and advanced metrics for the betterment of the sport.

Said the TIF paper: “This is the era of analytics, particularly in sports, and racing should take every step possible to be a part of it. While the suggestions outlined in this paper may seem a significant departure from the status quo, we believe they are well within reason given the state of the industry. The sooner racing and Equibase embrace this path forward, the better.”

TIF board member Tom Reynolds explained: “The racing business survives by selling two experiences – one to owners and one to horse players. The exorbitant cost of data in an era where data drives participation and decision making is a barrier to both experiences. The status quo inhibits the growth that the sport needs. The path forward should be crystal clear.”

In a press statement publicizing the paper, TIF Executive Director Pat Cummings noted: “Offering free, basic past performances would put North America on par with some of the world’s leading jurisdictions and serves as a much-deserved benefit for the sport’s dedicated customers. The real ground-breaker, though, would be providing raw data feeds for non-commercial users. This would be a monumental step to propel racing into the modern era, particularly with the widespread availability of data in other sports which goes towards informing wagering decisions in a liberalized sports betting environment.”

He added: “All sectors of the industry are impacted by our 15-year, 47% inflation-adjusted decline in wagering handle. Now is the perfect time to act, distributing the data in a way that promotes the best future interests of the industry.”