Friday, January 6, 2012

A Guide to Horse Racing iPad Apps

--Brian DiDonato

Get an Apple iPad over the holidays and want to know how you can use it for horse racing and sales? I tried out all the major horse-related apps out there, and while there's a definite lack in quantity, there's no shortage of quality. There are sure to be many new apps introduced over the next few years as tablets become more and more popular, but until then, see below for some of the best apps that are currently available.

All apps featured in this post are free.

Equineline Sales Catalog offers everything you could possibly want for viewing and editing sales catalogs from Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse and Standardbred auctions around the world. The features are endless and right on the money--this app was clearly designed by someone who knows what auction buyers, sellers and spectators want and need in an interactive catalog. Once you've downloaded a catalog of your choice from the extensive list of offerings, you can view each page as you normally would, but with a streamlined ease that a regular hard copy can't match. What further sets the app apart from a standard catalog are the ways in which it allows one to mark, edit and categorize pages. The user can add free-hand notes, highlights, underlines or sticky notes. It's also possible to add letter ratings or rate an offering by conformation or veterinary information. Various indexes are available as well as a search function. You can add horses to short lists too, turning each list into its own mini catalog. The app gives you the ability to email annotated pages, and you can even view breeze videos for 2-year-old sales. The only minor issue I had with this app has to do with its writing/highlighting functions. I found it a bit hard to accurately mark exactly where I wanted on a page--using a stylus might correct this.

Equibase Today's Racing is one of several apps featured here that is made for the iPhone, but that runs on the iPad. Touch the "2x" button on the bottom right corner of your screen for a double-sized view that doesn't quite take up the whole iPad screen, but does the job. The graphics of such apps are blurred a bit when blown up, but not enough to have any impact on functionality. The Equibase app offers entries for North American races for the current day as well as the next day, and includes owner, trainer and jockey info as well as morning line odds. There's also a link to purchase handicapping data. Results are available for the previous day as well as the current day, and detailed charts are offered in addition to quick results. Video replays are available for subscription holders. The app also lists scratches and changes for each track for the current day--something that could be very useful when taking your iPad to the track. While this app won't wow you with sharp graphics or features, it's perfectly suitable for looking up what you need to know on the fly.

Racing Post's app, also intended for the iPhone, features European cards and results with significant detail. The race cards include past performance information that can be customized, which is a nice added bonus. Cards are available for the upcoming race day through whatever day is available--usually about a week or so. Results go back about six days and include a fair amount of information. The app's news section lists top stories in chronological order with the most recent news at the top. There's also a video feature section that isn't updated as often. European users can use the app to access and bet through their William Hill account, and there's a link for streaming William Hill radio. This is a useful app for accessing  European racing information regardless of your location, but only European users will have the luxury of taking full advantage of its functionality.

Daily Racing Form TicketMaker helps you structure exotic wagers using the breakthrough methods outlined in Steve Crist's "Exotic Betting." This is another app intended for the iPhone, so it's not the prettiest thing to look at, but it's a very useful tool that gets the job done. It's easy to sort runners into the A, B, C, and X categories and to adjust parameters, and the "callout" function would be useful when placing a bet with a teller at the track. You can also save tickets or email them to yourself or others. The TicketMaker app features a link to the DRF website, but it would be better to simply access the site on Safari--the in-app browser does not address issues of incompatibility between iOS and flash-driven content, so the only difference is a smaller screen. Either way, no Formulator without using some sort of third-party app--I've tried it using the GoToMyPC app and it works well enough.

Hollywood Park's iGoRacing app is only really useful when Hollywood is running, but it is a very aesthetically pleasing app that takes full advantage of the iPad's high resolution screen. Entries, results and changes are available during the meet, and workouts are updated each day for both Hollywood and Santa Anita. There are also some handicapping resources which are a bit more geared to the novice, including a bet calculator for determining the cost of a given wager. One of the app's more appealing functions is live streaming video, which is something hard to come by due to the flash issue on iOS. With a load of information presented in an excellent format, this is a must-have app for the Hollywood Park enthusiast.

The Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup apps haven't, of course, been updated yet for 2012, but both appear like they'll be very useful when the time comes. Don't forget to check them out during the spring and fall respectively.

It's also worth noting that while there is no TDN app, all features on the TDN website are fully functional with Safari. The newsletter itself looks great on the iPad either in Safari or in iBooks, and video replays are compatible with iOS.

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