Kentucky Derby introduces artificial intelligence to predict race outcome

Wednesday May 10th, 2017

Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry at SportTechie.com.

The Kentucky Derby is dubbed as “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” By the same token, it also may be the most difficult two minutes in sports to predict. That’s why artificial intelligence is now being used to handicap the annual race.

Churchill Downs, Silicon Valley-based Unanimous A.I. and TwinSpires have combined efforts to produce some of the most accurate predictions that racing has ever seen. In fact, last year Unanimous A.I. correctly predicted the top-four Derby finishers (the Superfecta), in order. The odds of that being done were 542-1.

The predictions are based on the use of Unanimous’s Swarm A.I. technology. Rather than replacing human intelligence, the platform amplifies intelligence by combining insights from the top racing minds across the industry—like a swarm, if you will.

From there, the system creates a range of likely outcomes with confidence values pertaining to each horse using A.I. algorithms.

“Politicians have conflicting values, but not conflicting knowledge,” Unanimous A.I. CEO Louis Rosenberg told Newsweek in a May 2016 article. “Forcing polarized groups into a swarm allows them to find the answer that most people are satisfied with. Our vision is to enable the power of group intelligence for everybody.”

For this year’s running, which happened Saturday, TwinSpires.com provided a team of racing experts who formed the “super-expert.” With a much more unpredictable field, the team faced 76,000-1 odds of correctly predicting the Superfecta. The system correctly surfaced four out of the top five finishers in its confidence analysis. Had two horses flipped in their placing, they would have correctly predicted the top four for the second-straight year.

By combining human insight and A.I. algorithms, Unanimous has enhanced the way we handicap events like the Kentucky Derby.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.