Three tracks adopt GPS timing
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.”