Sunday, June 17, 2018
Thinking About Preakness Stakes Viewers

We've learned by now not to ask how big the Super Bowl can get. Maybe it's time to think of the Kentucky Derby in the same way. We've all heard that the Kentucky Derby drew a TV audience of 16.2 million. That's a pretty solid number and everyone from Churchill Downs, Inc. to NBC is rightfully pleased. The network eagerly announced this ratings hit with all the fanfare you would expect. The person who penned this press release was in such a rush that they unintentionally gave Grindstone a touch of Shakespearean flair -- Grindestone. 'Tis but a little mistake.

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Big Data and Death at America's Racetracks

The original title for this post was "Use of Artificial Intelligence Techniques to Predict Racetrack Breakdowns", but I kind of wanted more than five people to read it. Hence the current title with a bit more sizzle and a nod to the New York Times investigative series from last year. Fair warning though, there's no getting around the fact that we'll be talking here about the advanced analysis of data to build a hypothetical predictive model, but I'll try to make that as accessible and interesting as possible.

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The Wire

This summer I've started a genealogy project to build a family tree that will hopefully go back at least a couple of centuries. As anyone who has also worked on ancestry research can attest, it's no easy task, but technology has made the research process quite a bit easier.

Building a family tree and filling in the branches is naturally the primary objective, but not the most interesting part. The good stuff lies in discovering personalities and anecdotes that can be attached to a name. If this process was akin to sports announcing, building a family tree is the play-by-play and getting to know the individual leaves on a personal level is the color commentary.

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Still America's Turf Authority

If you participated in our recent survey about HBO's 'Luck', you may have noticed a couple of questions about website visitation at the end of the questionnaire. These questions had nothing at all to do with 'Luck' and represented a research experiment of sorts. The experiment had mixed results. On one hand the results have face validity, but on the other hand they are biased by the sample - a self-selected convenience sample.

Nevertheless we'll present the results since they shine a little light into the online behavior of avid Thoroughbred racing fans. These questions were asked of all those who reside in the U.S. or Canada who said they are "very interested" in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

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Cot Campbell is Wrong About 'Luck'

Admittedly I could have come up with a more creative and diplomatic title for this post, but nothing else comes to mind at the moment. In any case, the title sums up the article nicely. It is what it is.

Last month, Dogwood Stable's W. Cothran "Cot" Campbell was honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in Thoroughbred horse racing. This means that in his long, successful career the 84-year-old Campbell has been right far more often than he has been wrong. Nevertheless, I think Cot Campbell was wrong yesterday in his opinion about HBO's new series "Luck" and have the right to respond accordingly.

Mr. Campbell's primary thesis is that "Luck" will have no appreciable positive impact on the Thoroughbred racing industry aside from a bump in attendance at Santa Anita. This is due, it seems, to certain of "Luck's" characters, the "evil, degraded, unhygienic bozoes" and their "ridiculously furtive, suspicious manner". He also takes issue with the impenetrable racetrack jargon that dominates "Luck's" dialogue.

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