Microsoft Bing Predicts Today’s Kentucky Derby Winner Using Genetic X-Factor And Social Algorithms

When it comes to prediction algorithms, Microsoft usually doesn't horse around. It's making an exception for the Kentucky Derby, the annual horse race held in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. As Microsoft has done with other sporting competitions, it tasked Bing with making some bold predictions.

The technology at hand is called Bing Predicts and it consists of analyzing web activity, social sentiment, and other signals to predict outcomes with sometimes surprising accuracy. Using Microsoft's Bing prediction engine, Cortana correctly picked 14 straight winners in the games leading up to the 2014 World Cup. It's only blemish in the entire tournament was picking Brazil to beat the Netherlands.

Kentucky Derby

Two years and lots of refinements later, Microsoft is turning its attention to the Kentucky Derby. Horse racing is a particularly difficult sport to predict because of the many variables, things like track conditions, past performances by the horses, the jockeys, and so forth. Even genetics comes into play.

"Regarding genetics, there is a so-called X factor which is a mutation on the X chromosome that makes the heart up to 3 times larger than normal. Many former champions had it, including the legendary Secretariat, and others are rumored to have it, such as last year’s champion American Pharoah," Microsoft stated in a blog post.

The upshot to all those variables is that Bing Predicts has a mountain of data to crunch. Taking all that into account, Bing came to the conclusion that Nyquist will finish in first place and trot home with the rose blanket, followed by Mohaymen (2nd place), Outwork (3rd place), Destin (4th place), and Exaggerator (5th place).

Bing isn't going out on a limb here. Nyquist is the odds on favorite to win the race. The 2-year-old champion is undefeated in seven races, and the favorite has won the Kentucky Derby the last three times. Bing may have also factored in that Nyquist drew the 13th post, the last one outside the gate (not as crowded by other horses) and the same one he drew in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, which he won.

The Kentucky Derby will start at precisely 6:34 PM ET today.