Prior to the formation of Equibase, the Thoroughbred industry’s historical racing records had long been controlled by a third-party publisher. With Equibase, the goal was to put racing information back in the hands of the industry so that it could be made as widely available, attractively presented and affordable as possible.
Under the direction of a management committee consisting of leaders from the racing and breeding industries, Equibase began full-scale operations on Jan. 1, 1991. Through a network of chartcallers, Equibase began collecting past performance information from all Thoroughbred tracks in North America.
The information was processed, stored and made available for retrieval in the company’s database within its Lexington, Ky., headquarters. Access to Equibase’s historical racing records enabled tracks to develop new formats and distribution networks for their daily programs; and enabled the industry as a whole to facilitate the growth of simulcasting through accurate and affordable program information, which significantly boosted pari-mutuel handle nationwide throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium.
In 1997 the TRA announced Equibase as the Official Database for Racing Information and Statistics, and in 1998, when the company reached an agreement with Daily Racing Form by which Equibase became the official data supplier to the venerable publication, Equibase became the sole collector of Thoroughbred past performances. This agreement to standardize racing’s statistics eliminated the duplication of effort and resulting confusion from the maintenance of two databases of racing information.
That year also marked the issuance of the first dividend checks to Equibase’s partners following the retirement of the original startup loan extended by The Jockey Club. Dividend distributions are issued annually and are shared among the TRA and its partner racetracks (67%) and The Jockey Club (33%).
Throughout its history, Equibase has sought to leverage emerging communications technology for the overall growth and betterment of racing. The company established one of racing’s first websites in 1995, delivering racing information to fans via this new medium. As the Internet became a larger part of everyday life, equibase.com became a daily stop for fans surfing the web. After re-launching the site with full e-commerce capabilities in 1999, the company quickly emerged as a leading provider of value-added information and services to the electronic and interactive marketplace. This position was strengthened by the July 2000 acquisition of TrackMaster, a premier provider of electronic handicapping information. TrackMaster is a wholly owned subsidiary of Equibase and maintains a website at trackmaster.com.
At the turn of the century, Equibase implemented eBase®, a field collection system that lets chartcallers work directly in the central database, thus streamlining the collection and quality control of results information. This resulted in mutual payoffs becoming available on equibase.com within minutes after the race was made official and a full chart electronically published within 30 minutes.
Equibase.com has long offered a comprehensive menu of free entries, results and race charts as well as a complete line of premium handicapping products for handicappers of every skill level. Among its many other offerings are Virtual Stable®, the popular free e-mail notification service that keeps customers apprised of racing activity that is important to them; and Stats Central, where fans can find expanded horse, jockey, trainer, owner and track statistical profiles as well as complete racing leaders from 2000 to current, all free of charge.
Just as Equibase offered one of the industry’s first websites, so too did it offer one of the industry’s first mobile platforms. Since 2003, fans have been able to follow the sport in real time from the convenience of their mobile devices and the platform was later redesigned to capitalize on emerging smartphone technology.
Equibase is also serving the rapidly growing mobile web market through apps including Today’s Racing™, and iPP’s by Equibase, – along with mobile-friendly products – engaging a wide audience from casual fans to seasoned handicappers by making the information more accessible and portable.
With a focus on maintaining the comprehensiveness, quality and timeliness of its data collection and distribution, Equibase has achieved and, in many cases, surpassed virtually all of the goals set forth in 1991. Equibase will continue to leverage information to serve the fan base and help promote the sport, regardless of the medium through which fans access information.