Advanced Analytics in the Horse Capital of the World

by Allison Traynor, Project Manager, Virtulytix

Here, in the Horse Capital of the World, you can find a perfect combination of Advanced Analytics and Horse Racing. Horse Racing, the sport of Kings, has become more popular in recent years, attracting more fans in part due to the improving economy and the new efforts by the industry to reach out to up and coming fans. Those who are in this industry are those who love the sport and the magnificent horses who run the races. Recently at Keeneland Racetrack, there was a Welfare and Safety Summit for the horse racing industry on research and measures taken to ensure safety and integrity at the racetrack and additional common sense measures. One of the most interesting presentations was done by Tim Parkin, a professor of veterinary epidemiology who is conducting research with advanced analytics, Parkin is attempting to create and deploy a model that predicts with a high level of accuracy which horse for which race will suffer a non-fatal or fatal injury.

I was deeply surprised to have found the prevalence of predictive analytics within horseracing. Since 2009, fatal injuries have declined 20% during Thoroughbred races, however we still can do better. Using the Equine Injury Database (EID), from 2009 to 2017, there is data gathered from 3.1 million starts from nearly 150,000 horses. However, as he discussed they are missing data, to the point where they have nearly a quarter of their factors deemed undetermined. To deploy the model in a production setting it is important to identify what is missing. They are missing about 50% of non-fatal injuries in racing and will further need data on training injuries as well. Now within an industry that questions all possible scenarios, I question what else could take effect. Could it be the horse’s determination on race day, or the consistency of the dirt? Could it be their physical build? The physical appearance measurements of a horse are very important in how they race, the width and angle between their legs, the depth of their hindquarters, and the height of their withers. All these are important when a horse looks to run, not having those features may mean they are more prone to injuries.

Predictive analytics, and their capabilities are proving to within a short amount of time how invaluable the technology is. By using technology and predictive algorithms, individuals and organizations can analyze their systems with advanced capabilities. As Dr. Tim Parkin presented, there are endless use cases for advanced analytics. At Virtulytix, we are discovering and realizing that the applications of advanced analytics are basically incomparable, here in the Horse Capital of the World.