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Tampa Bay Downs bettors will have more handicapping information at their fingertips than ever during the 2011-12 season thanks to the track’s partnership with Trakus, a technology system being heralded as the wave of the future by industry leaders, horsemen and serious players.
Simulcast viewers may have some familiarity with Trakus, which already is in place in North America at Churchill Downs, Keeneland, Del Mar, Woodbine and Mohawk, a harness racing track in Canada. Using color icons known as “Chicklets,” the electronic tracking system displays the exact position of each horse on the track’s television monitors throughout the entire race.
Trakus, a digital horse racing-tracking technology firm based in Wakefield, Mass., originated in 2006 at Keeneland and Woodbine in Toronto. The system makes it easier for fans to track the running styles and progress of their choices during races, but the benefits Trakus provides keep coming after the finish.
Within minutes of a race’s conclusion, Trakus will post the entire order of finish, along with the beaten margins of the also-rans. But for the first time, Tampa Bay Downs bettors will also know how much additional or lesser ground (measured in feet) each horse has traveled, using the winner as the baseline.
With a length equal to approximately 8.5 feet, if your horse gets beat by two lengths but traveled 40 more feet than the winner, you could mark your horse as one to back the next time against a similar quality field, with a potentially better trip.
“Trakus puts quantitative fact behind observational and anecdotal analysis,” said Trakus business manager Pat Cummings. “In the past, I would look at a race on TV, see my horse ran three-wide most of the race and got beat by four lengths, but that would be the extent of my information.
“Trakus tells you how much farther your horse traveled in relation to the winner, or how much farther the winner may have actually ran than other horses. You can’t say for sure your horse might have won, but you know the result could have been different had it traveled the same distance.”
Trakus will also post the final quarter-mile time for every horse. “If your horse doesn’t win, no longer are you bound by just the final time,” Cummings said. “Now you will know how every horse closed.”
In layman’s terms, Trakus works as follows: A chip in the saddle cloth of each runner is tracked by antennas set around the track to determine each horse’s running position and distance from the rail. It all adds up to giving devoted bettors an edge that could sweeten their bankrolls. “We are not trying to reinvent horse racing data or how you analyze a race,” Cummings said. “We are just trying to add to the landscape of information already out there.”
Trakus is also being introduced at Gulfstream in Hallandale and is in place at tracks in Turkey, Dubai and Singapore.

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