Three tracks adopt GPS tim­ing

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Matt He­garty

A GPS-based tim­ing sys­tem that has been in test­ing at a num­ber of tracks in the U.S. for the past sev­eral months has been named the of­fi­cial timer at Wood­bine, Lau­rel Park, and Pim­lico Race Course, ac­cord­ing to Equibase, the rac­ing in­dus­try’s of­fi­cial data-gather­ing com­pany.

The tim­ing sys­tem, which was de­vel­oped by a Bri­tish com­pany, To­tal Per­for­mance Data, uses the GPS satel­lite sys­tem to track horses as they move around the track. To­tal Per­for­mance Data op­er­ates sim­i­lar sys­tems at more than 12 race­courses in the United King­dom, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

The sys­tem had al­ready been named the of­fi­cial timer at Golden Gate Fields in Northern Cal­i­for­nia, and trial runs have been tak­ing place since the sum­mer at the other tracks. Golden Gate Fields, Lau­rel, and Pim­lico are all owned by The Stronach Group, the pri­vate com­pany that owns a num­ber of race­tracks and rac­ing as­sets.

“Since the ear­li­est days of the com­pany, Equibase has sought a vi­able sys­tem of col­lect­ing data through au­to­mated track­ing,” said Ja­son Wil­son, the chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Equibase. “We are ex­cited to be mak­ing sub­stan­tial progress in this area and pleased to have part­nered with both Wood­bine and The Stronach Group.”

The sys­tem dif­fers from an­other elec­tronic track­ing sys­tem in wide use at many race­tracks, Trakus, which uses an ar­ray of lo­cal an­ten­nas placed around the rac­ing sur­face to record and dis­play tim­ing and lo­ca­tion data. That sys­tem has pro­vided some ben­e­fits to horse­play­ers and Equibase, but it has also suf­fered from some tim­ing prob­lems, es­pe­cially at Gulfstream Park in Florida, an­other Stronach track.

Equibase said in a re­lease that it an­tic­i­pates the new sys­tem will also be used to record work­out times at tracks, and that the com­pany “plans to ex­pand the num­ber of in­stal­la­tions over the next 12 months.”

Like Trakus, the To­tal Per­for­mance Data sys­tem con­stantly records the po­si­tions of horses rel­a­tive to each other, and the sys­tem will be used to pro­vide real-time graph­ics of races, Equibase said.

“We have been us­ing GPS tim­ing since the begin­ning of July and have been pleased with not only its per­for­mance, but the flex­i­bil­ity it of­fers,” said Jonathan Zam­mit, the vice pres­i­dent of Thor­ough­bred op­er­a­tions at Wood­bine. “We are also keen to ex­plore fu­ture ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the sys­tem.”

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