Swarming the Kentucky Derby: Good Guidance, But No Superfecta


To state the obvious – hitting the superfecta is really hard, and this year it was much harder than last year with the final odds being 76,000 to 1.  That’s  just plain crazy.  And yet, the expert handicappers at Churchill Downs put together a players’ pool that actually came remarkably close to hitting the superfecta based on the guidance the Swarm A.I. gave them.  In fact, had Lookin at Lee and Battle of Midway just flipped order, we would have hit a superfecta for the second year in a row.

How could the players pool have come so close to hitting a superfecta?

That’ was possible because the predictive intelligence that the Swarm A.I. system provided to Churchill Downs indicated a range of likely options, with confidence values for each. For a flat and unpredictable field, this provided valuable guidance.  Here is the table that was given to the Churchill Downs handicappers, but now with the FINISHING ORDER noted so you can see how the swarm did:
As you can see, the swarm guidance’s was reasonable, as it surfaced 4 out of the top 5 horses.  But, no one saw 32-1 Looking at Lee coming.In fact, not a single expert in the swarm listed Lookin at Lee as a possible top-5 finisher on their personal predictions.
So how did the experts do, as individuals, compared to the unified swarm?  If we count the average number of correctly identified top-four finishers,  the Swarm A.I. outperformed the expert handicappers who composed the swarm:
       AVERAGE EXPERT:            1.6 Horses Correct
       UNIFIED SWARM AI:        2.0 Horses Correct
In other words, the swarming process amplified the intelligence of the experts, boosting the average performance from 1.6 horses correct, up to 2.0 horses correct. That means the experts would have been better off, as a group, going with the swarm than going with their own individual picks. But, without 32-1 Lookin at Lee in anyone’s forecast, the players pool missed out on the massive superfecta.
What did we learn today? Some outcomes are just not predictable.  Especially a 76,000 to 1 superfecta.

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