By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON - For the people who love to wager on races at Hoosier Park, it just became an easier and more informed experience.
The Anderson track Tuesday became the only standardbred track in the world to add the Trakus wireless tracking system to its offerings.
To visually keep track of the horses during a race, the Trakus system displays each horse as a colored square at the bottom of the screen showing the televised race. In this way it is easy for fans to follow a particular horse throughout the race when often that horse might be obscured by other horses.
"We are excited to be able to offer this technology to our fans," said Hoosier Park's vice president and general manager Rick Moore. "The electronic video image system is being used at Del Mar, Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, Singapore and Dubai."
But Trakus offers so much more than just a enhanced visual experience. There is also a wealth of data made available almost immediately following each race.
At each quarter mile, each horse is listed for its time for that quarter, the distance the horse covered, the distance from the rail, the average speed and the lengths behind. By the end of the race it is possible to find out the peak speed of each horse and the distance each horse covered compared to the winner.
This could be invaluable information when it comes to evaluating those horses when next they go to the gate for a race.
"Unlike the thoroughbreds, the standardbreds don't have any comments on their program," said Patrick Cummings, business manager for Trakus. "With this system you can find each quarter time for each horse, track the in-race movement and find out if the horse had to go two wide and cover extra ground."
Down the road, when more data is collected, it might be possible to determine some driver tendencies that might be useful to the bettor as well.
"As a secondary benefit, we will be able to create data," said Cummings. "At the thoroughbred tracks we created a jockey efficiency rating. We might be able to tell which driver is good at saving ground and which driver might tend to cover extra ground for instance."
The system uses 20 antennas situated around the track to keep tabs on all of the horses. Each horse has an electronic device in its saddle pad that weighs around two ounces. The antennas cover each section of the track thoroughly so there is no dark spots on the track where fans could lose track of their horse.
"We used West Electric to come in and get the electronics done for this system," said Gene Ciscell, Hoosier Park's vice president of information technology. "It was the fastest install ever (about two months). The horsemen partnered with us."
The horsemen and Hoosier Park are hoping that this technology will help make the track simulcast signal stand out from the others available to tracks and bettors across the country.
"They want to promote our racing as much as we do," said Moore of the horsemen supporting this venture. "We are breeding really good standardbred horses here. We are confident that Trakus gives us a better chance to have our signal pop out at people."
Hoosier Park has live harness racing beginning at 5:45 p.m. each evening Tuesday through Saturday.