TIF: 'People in racing are exhausted' by lack of change

Photo: Benoit

More than 11 months ago, the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation published a report, “Embracing a Future with Free Racing Data.”

To date, there has been little movement on the issue, if any, from the American racing industry’s main data collector and distributor, Equibase, an organization which is owned by a partnership of The Jockey Club and a consortium of racetracks under the banner of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America.

“Our data is over-protected behind incredibly high prices and antiquated formats," said TIF Executive Director Patrick Cummings. "Our own industry’s organization is treating the demand for its product as if the market is thriving, when the reality is the opposite.

"Unfortunately, at this point, owners have no recourse as they relinquish rights to their data when they register a foal, and bettors have little choice. Owners and bettors are the sport’s only optional financial participants and everyone affiliated with racing depends on that participation.”

Inflation-adjusted handle on American racing is down approximately 50% in the last 16 years.

“Embracing a Future with Free Racing Data” offered four recommendations for Equibase that the TIF believes would better serve the overall industry:

1. Provide free data feeds to individual users who register to receive them, provided such use is for their own non-commercial purposes;

2. Provide free basic past performances for all North American races;

3. Create responsive channels for users to submit feedback in an effort to refine data;

4. Connect with the significant researching power of higher education to study and improve racing’s data.

“We fully recognize the value-added products sold by Equibase and other data providers and there is no suggestion that those should be free. This quest has always been about providing basic, raw information as a way to attract attention and focus spending on wagering, something that should clearly be the goal of almost all industry stakeholders.”

In January, TIF published “American Racing’s Sustainable Future,” a paper which identified three key issues and three transformational recommendations to improve the prospects of the greater industry.

“In this most recent paper, I think we re-framed the frustration many have with racing but were struggling to put it into words,” said TIF founder and Glen Hill Farm CEO Craig Bernick.

“The feedback we’ve received is astonishing. People in racing are exhausted looking around and wondering why things aren’t changing. They have come to realize that many racetrack owner-operators, often enriched by casino gaming, though not all, have very little incentive to improve the sport.

“If you challenged a consulting firm to devise a method to slowly eliminate horse racing, they’d follow almost every action our own industry has actually executed. It’s time for those who have the most incentive to change the business – owners and breeders – to take the lead and build a new way forward.”