Can big data save horse-racing industry?

On Saturday, May 3, the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby took place. Twenty 3-year-old Thoroughbreds took a 1.25-mile sprint in what is commonly referred to as “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports.” For casual horse-racing fans, the Derby is likely one of only a couple times each year to tune in and physically watch a race.

For those of us located in the middle of horse-racing country, it is a rare excuse to show up and show off a unique piece of our culture. Though the industry currently is hosting a debate over the commonly accepted notion that horse racing is a dying sport, no one can contest that horse racing is as relevant as it was in the mid-20th century.

Wagering is down 30 percent over the past decade in the United States as well, so the numbers don’t look good. However, there are many who see renewed interest in horse racing, at least partially as a result of big data. The Derby provides a great opportunity to examine how the rapidly changing world of big data and analytics is changing the horse-racing industry.

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