Techniques for coaching human athletes and training racehorses have changed over the years with the application of video feedback, nutritional improvements, conditioning discoveries, more accurate timing technologies, and advanced medical procedures.  Now, artificial intelligence or AI promises to make further advancements.

For example, Forbes describes how Pixellot, a six-year-old Israeli company that employs “technology to maximize talent,” for such college programs as Virginia basketball, Penn State and Indiana soccer, as well as for several premier international soccer clubs.  Forbes states that Pixellot “has been using artificial intelligence to quietly upend the way players and coaches watch games—and even practices.”  Pixellot is “a tool for player-improvement and coaching, a way to break down weaknesses and find ways to get better, no matter the player’s level or the sport.” 

The main focus of the Forbes article is Deni Avdija, a 6-7 Israel basketball player for Maccabi Tel Aviv, who was drafted ninth in the first round of the 2020 National Basketball Association by the Washington Wizards.  Maccabi and Avdija have been a testing ground for applying artificial intelligence to practice and game video to hone players’ techniques.

Likely, there would be some skepticism and resistance to using artificial intelligence to train racehorses and plan racing tactics. But experimentation will no doubt take place by some forward-thinking owners and trainers looking for a legal edge.  Artificial intelligence has the capacity to identify patterns that human brains often miss. 

I recall reading that prior to the 1982 Kentucky Derby, Gato Del Sol’s co-owner, Arthur Hancock III, was concerned with the colt’s number 18 post position.  Reportedly, Mr. Hancock contacted a high-school classmate who he had remembered as a math whiz to ask about the path his jockey should take out of the starting gate to give the colt the best chance to win.  Fed enough data, artificial intelligence can answer precisely this type of question.

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