Belmont’s Stake in the Heart of the Triple Crown

Posted by Jess Lin

12.06.2014 11:06 AM

Belmont Stakes 2014 TonalistWith the third largest crowd ever seen at the Belmont Stakes, it looked as though California Chrome was poised to make history this past Saturday. As the 11 horses raced down the final stretch, though, it became clear that we would not see another Triple Crown winner this year. Given our success at predicting previous races, did the Belmont Stakes catch us flat footed?

Top 5 Belmont Stakes Horses

Predicted Actual
California Chrome Tonalist
Ride on Curlin Commissioner
Commanding Curve Medal Count
Wicked Strong California Chrome
Commissioner Wicked Strong

Predicting three of the top five horses across the finish line is no easy feat, especially given how few career races many of the contenders had data for. Our Kentucky Derby prediction was only one horse better, and the mile and a half of the Belmont Stakes is a distance that many of these colts have never raced at – nor ever will again in the future. Given these difficulties, how did we come up with our predictions?

(Finish Position) = 5.598233829 + 1.244550122*(Style Rating Standardized) - 1.244550122*(ML Implied Probability Standardized) - 1.244550122*tanh(2*(Racing Speed Average Standardized))

After ingesting’s unique handicapping data, Eureqa came back to us with the above equation. What does it mean? With the goal of minimizing finish position (#1 = winner), positive terms in the model suggest disadvantages while negative terms suggest advantages for horses running the Belmont. As a positive term, Eureqa picked out that high early speed in a horse compared to the competition (style rating) tends to be a disadvantage. But, horses that both were heavy betting favorites (Morning Line) and had high race speeds compared to the competition throughout their career (racing speed average) tend to be at an advantage.

So why did we only get 3 of the top 5 horses? It was clear that California Chrome’s heavy race schedule had finally caught up to him down the final stretch, as he wasn’t able to shift into a higher gear to put away the competition. The data we gave Eureqa didn’t suggest any high causal effects between race schedule and performance. But armed with this real-world proof point, we can use our newfound domain expertise in the future to prompt Eureqa into further investigation of the race schedule to race performance trend.

While we at Nutonian were ready to break out the party hats and celebrate the end of the Triple Crown drought, it was sadly not to be. Today’s race towards data lakes has armed many business teams with the opposite problem – far too much data. Setting Nutonian’s robotic data scientist on critical business processes across retail, insurance, and manufacturing can automatically discover hidden insights in complex data sets, while still allowing you to apply your own domain expertise – leading to maximum results.

Did you try running Eureqa on your own Belmont predictions? Let us know your results and thoughts in the comments!


Topics: Belmont Stakes, Eureqa, Triple Crown

What’s Nutonian’s Stake at the Belmont?

Posted by Jess Lin

05.06.2014 11:00 AM

Belmont Stakes 2014

After our successful prediction of the Kentucky Derby and California Chrome’s continued dominance in the Preakness, we couldn’t resist from throwing our hats into the Triple Crown prediction ring. Will we finally see a horse awarded the Triple Crown this year, becoming only the 12th horse to win that honor? The Belmont Stakes has a reputation as the Test of the Champion, but this year we’ll have the test answers before the race even begins.

By setting Nutonian’s robotic data scientist, Eureqa, against thousands of data points and years of race performances, we’ll have answers to the question of whether this year will see the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. We can also investigate why California Chrome’s paltry bloodlines have led to such a dazzling career, and even how to spot the next California Chrome. You don’t have to take my word for it – try it out yourself on your own data and see how accurate your predictions can be!


Topics: Belmont Stakes, California Chrome, Eureqa, Triple Crown

One Hat to Rule Them All

Posted by Jess Lin

05.05.2014 05:30 PM

Kentucky Derby California ChromeThe first jewel of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing took place this past Saturday, at the 140th Kentucky Derby. While California Chrome was the heavy favorite leading up to this year’s Derby, the race is never over till it’s over, and standings for the rest of the field could have gone in any direction. Without any prior knowledge of horse racing lore, Eureqa® and‘s handicapping data helped us complete beginners predict 4 of the first 5 horses across the finish line.

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports

While the lavish hats and the $2,000 mint juleps always deserve attention at America’s most popular horse race, the real stars of the show are the 3 year old colts. California Chrome’s cinderella story, combined with Wicked Strong’s connection to Boston and New England, drew the second-largest crowd the Kentucky Derby has ever seen. Thousands of experienced and amateur handicappers have been following these 19 colts throughout their racing careers, discovering intimate details about their quirks and characteristics, but were there hidden relationships that no one had accounted for yet?

Once we started running‘s unique handicapping data through Nutonian’s cognitive computing engine, the answer was clear. I can’t deny that my eyes glazed over after looking through 62 different variables and 265 horses, but Eureqa®‘s autonomous insights ran into no such obstacle. By uncovering a deep relationship between just 4 key variables, Eureqa® helped us predict the finish of the race.

The Nutonian Difference

There are hundreds of people who can tell you detailed information on each and every horse that ran the Kentucky Derby this weekend, from race records, to their sire’s history, all the way to their behavior on different track types. Believe me, I am not one of them. But what I do have available is the tireless power of Eureqa® to drive for discovering causal relationships from concise representations of complex data. What did Eureqa® have to tell me on the Kentucky Derby?

Horse Score = 5.614695362 + 2.634162332*(Racing Style_Early) + 0.5869793526*(Trainer Meet %)*Speed - 0.06186576034*Speed - 57.63578215*(Trainer Meet %) - 1.000054353*exp(1.027235778*(Starting Price Implied Probability Standardized))

If that formula doesn’t make any sense to you, keep reading on and all will be revealed. For the 19 horses that ran this past Saturday, 4 variables were key in determining their finish position. Most importantly – horses with an early running style were at a distinct disadvantage. Following that, the higher the horse’s BRIS speed rating, the better, with the same holding true for the standardized starting price probability. Interestingly, the trainer’s record seems to have a mixed effect. On its own, the better the trainer’s record, the better the horse should place. However, it has less of an effect when the horse’s BRIS speed rating is high – suggesting that good trainers are more important for slower horses.

  Predicted Actual
1 California Chrome California Chrome
2 Wicked Strong Commanding Curve
3 Danza Danza
4 Vicars in Trouble Wicked Strong
5 Samraat Samraat


Using this formula, we were able to not only predict the winner, but also 4 out of the top 5 horses, with exact predictions in place for #1, #3, and #5. There are many other sources of data that we did not tap into, which all could have improved the final predictions. However, we trusted the data we did have to Eureqa®, with no background horse racing knowledge of our own, and were repaid handsomely for our trust. While the world celebrates California Chrome’s unlikely success, Nutonian is able to celebrate knowing why he deserved to win.

Will a Triple Crown Winner be Crowned in 2014?

No horse has won the Triple Crown in the last 36 years. Will California Chrome become just the 12th horse to win that honor in the past century? While nothing in life is a guarantee, you can be sure that using Eureqa® to expose meaningful variables within a framework of context and understanding will be the key to winning it big – not just for the Kentucky Derby, but for use cases across retail, telecommunications, financial services, life sciences, and utilities.

See you at the Preakness in 2 weeks to see if California Chrome can continue his journey towards the Triple Crown!


Topics: Eureqa, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown

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