The History of Hor$ense

The history of Hor$ense has it’s roots in my fascination with numbers. I’ve been a "stats freak" for as far back as I can remember. At the tender age of twelve, my dad introduced me to horse racing. For those willing to admit their age, the first handicapping "tool" that I used was the original "Kelco Class Calculator", which was the equivalent of a round slide rule to take a wild stab at class. When I turned eighteen, I knew enough about the horses to get into a world of trouble… which I didn’t do very often.

After being away from the horses for nearly five years, I returned with a purpose. Namely, not to lose so often. As a Computer Science major, I knew that I could put a computer to good use, but a personal computer – at least as we know them – wasn’t available yet. So, I broke down and bought a programmable calculator. It worked pretty well, but it wasn’t powerful enough to suit my needs.

Along came the "Horse Race Analyzer" – a crude computerized tool, which I still have in my desk drawer – and it nearly made handicapping fun. There was one big drawback, and that was that there was no "back" button. Make one mistake near the end of your data entry, and you got to start all over. Well, since I couldn’t put my fat fingers on a diet, I gave up on that method of handicapping and pursued something better.

I learned to analyze video replays and chart the value of many trouble calls. I developed a method of determining the expected positioning of each horse in a race. I devised a crude formula to convert times from other tracks. I analyzed workouts – both times and patterns – in order to assign ratings to them. I got pretty good at evaluating past and current class. Heck, I even figured out how to determine in-the-money ratios. There was only one slight problem… it took nearly an hour to go through all of these gyrations for ONE race.

I really had two problems. One, it took WAY too long to handicap a race. And two, I didn’t know which races to skip. Oh, I don’t mean the race full of first-time starters, the field full of horses making their first turf run or the race with most of the field stretching out for the first time. No, it was the "marginal" races that always tripped me up. These two problems combined to create all-night handicapping sessions. Sometimes it worked out great, but other times a few scratches would send me for something stronger than chocolate milk.

It wasn’t until 1988 that I got tired of being so tired from handicapping that I couldn’t enjoy myself at the races. Besides, I still wasn’t winning enough of the time to be happy. I was at a crossroads… do I give up on horse racing or do I do something about it? Well, I don’t usually give up… it’s much more rewarding to try and fail than it is to give up. So, I broke down and bought a personal computer. Having worked as a programmer for five years, I was ready to put it to use for something I loved to do.

Of course, keeping my day job and programming at night and on weekends – the same way I do it today – was pretty exhausting. I introduced Hor$ense on Breeders’ Cup Day in 1989… and the response was underwhelming. It wasn’t until December of 1990 when things really took off! A timely review by the Phillips Racing Newsletter catapulted Hor$ense into respectability… a place where it still stands today.

Over the years, Hor$ense has undergone many subtle changes, but the basic premise of solid handicapping principles blended with forward-thinking handicapping techniques has allowed Hor$ense to stand the test of time. In July of 1990, the initial release of Version 2 included the concept of marking up the Daily Racing Form. Nearly 18 months later, the nearly identical feature first appeared in the Daily Racing Form. I'm proud of the fact that I developed something before the staff at the Daily Racing Form (allegedly) developed on their own. Maybe great minds DO think alike!!! Or maybe they borrowed liberally from my original concept. Who knows... and who cares! All I know is that Hor$ense customers had the feature available to them first.

Here's another example of forward-thinking. In the early 1990s, I recognized the trend moving away from hand entering the information. So, I immediately went work on using data files to do the work… with amazing results! With the same quality, a race could be handicapped in 10 minutes, instead of the 30 minutes it took to enter the data by hand. The first Windows version of Hor$ense (released in 2001) handicapped a race in less than FIVE minutes! Now, with Hor$ense for Windows Professional (Version 7), you can handicap a race in less than TWO MINUTES!!!

Check out the rest of the on-line home of Hor$ense, and see why it is STILL the PRICE-PERFORMANCE LEADER in handicapping software!!!

Best of Luck,

Joe Mainardi