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NEW RACING TECHNOLOGY - WASHINGTON POST

February 10, 2012

MIAMI — In no sport is data more important than in thoroughbred racing, because billions of dollars in wagers are based on information about horses’ past performances. Yet the industry’s data-gathering is a product of the Stone Age.

While many sports (even quarter-horse racing) record the time of every finisher in thousandths of a second, thoroughbred racing doesn’t time anyone but the winner — not even the second-place finisher in the Belmont Stakes. Handicappers must estimate losers’ times with crude calculations based on the number of lengths by which they were beaten. And when the official data says a horse was 10 lengths behind in the early stages of a race, that number comes from human observation that is inevitably imprecise.

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