Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life is Now a Subset

Alan of Left at the Gate has never been a big fan of the Twitter and the twinkies, and I certainly respect that opinion. For some it is just asinine. For others however, it is not, and I think it is something that will be a part of racing on the internet for a long time to come, because of that subset.

I remember stock trading in the 1990's with my 56.6 modem cranked up to full speed. I hooked into a small cap volume alert thread at the growing and soon-to-be-popular Silicon Investor website. A trader or two, or a stay at home mom not even trading, had a their volume alerts set and would enter a trade based on them. They would post the potential mover, and a few of us would add it to our screens. I lived on that site for a couple of years. Real time stock trading was born on sites like this all over the world.

The key was that there was a subset of people who wanted to do this. They were "The Long Tail" of stock trading. It worked, and it grew into a phenomenon.

We are slowly seeing this subset of people using twitter for racing. Joe Riddell has his Keeneland report (he is paid by Keeneland to do this), now we have the Bridgejumper alert tweet thread, which alerts people to bridgejumpers who might want to take a shot against them. The carryover thread, long overdue, has been a godsend to many who want to know about carryovers.

I think that is only the beginning. Because when subsets of people that used to do things with pen and paper who can now do things with the computer, it is always that way.

Back in the day at Greenwood at the east end of Toronto, there were the clockers. I was one of them - you would show up right at 6PM with a program and a watch, sit up in the stands and watch warm ups. There were countless good bets found for people who want to work at it. Everyone had no problem sharing data with whomever would listen, as well.

There were the post parades and score outs. Religious watchers of them. If you met in the clubhouse and a horse broke while scoring out, you were alerted and bet accordingly.

All of these things were hard work, and they were only available to you if you were there. This is not the case any longer.

The Racing Post UK has real time alerts, right on the side of the screen for anyone playing from home. I would bet dollars to donuts will have the same thing on their interface within the next 12 months. There are people out there who want to know near post if a horse washes out, they want to know if a rider is galloping a willing animal before post time, they want to know if a horse breaks in the score down, or if a trainer zipped the horse a 31 last quarter in the warm up mile. A twitter track feed on a scroll via your adw is not rocket science. It could be done tomorrow.

Will it be make or break? Will it be the difference in losing or making money? No. But added information is looked for by some, and some will use it. They will remember that Jim Takter warms up this horse in a jog, the wrong way around the track, but this week they saw a right way warm up with a 32 second last quarter. The horse might be 20-1. Others will remember last weeks track tweet that the six warmed up in a sweat, unruly and fractious but this week with a murphy blind added he is calm as a sleeping baby.

There are players out there doing things with computers that most players can not imagine. If a track used twitter to update each horses warm up in such a way to encourage it, say by twinkying "trainer name", "horse", "warm up back 3/8's" and one or two more factors, this would be super-easy to scrape off twitter into a spreadsheet, where the player would have a warm up tendency database, and be easily alerted when something is up.

If there is one thing the long tail has taught us, is that the market is silent, but can be out there. And in the aggregate it can be very big. Ten years from now your adw screen will look very different, and if we do it right, and think completely outside the box it can help racing grow, as it has so many other sports and games of skill.


Anonymous said...

I set up an automatically updated blog for carryovers a long time I could subscribe to it by RSS. I should have spread it around I guess, I just never got around to it.

The other thing that should be easier is tote shouldn't have to be manual...even for that twitter group. I think there are some easy solutions to fix that problem, basically a tote scraper with a database that lives with a web service -- providing a structured data port for programs to access (so they don't have to implement web scrapers and structure the data themselves), as well as a web user interface to a database of all historical tote data. And, of course, things like the bridgejumping feed, but done programatically.

The real kicker, with things like Google App Engine -- the entire thing can be set up, hosted in the cloud, and run completely free -- allowing it to be offered freely.

I should talk to Bill W about it..something like the ultimate tote service could maybe be a HANA branded affair. It's one of the few racing data pieces that is not under any copyright -- we can make and offer big improvements that benefit everyone.


Pull the Pocket said...

Hi chick,

Historical tote data (if/when the business gets to fixing it) will be a huge boon to punters, especially if there is ever an exchange here. Already we see some software providers have live tote interfaces where different things can be tracked, and the computer teams have used them for years in places like Hong Kong and Australia. You are right, this is one thing that the business can not scream copyright on. It is free over the airways, and getting something up before they do is a smart thing, in my opinion. If they tried to shut it down, it would be difficult, and would perhaps show them for what the are accused of: a monopolistic bunch who do not care about the growth of racing, only their own salaries.


Anonymous said...

Wow this is cool stuff. I confess that I do not understand much of the technology, but anything that makes betting better and more attractive has got to be good. I also like the idea of being able to prove that the racetracks are out of touch and force them to come into the 21st Century.
Regards, Rebecca