Star Talk Radio with Neil deGrasse Tyson – Playing With Science

Kentucky Derby Special – April 24, 2019 – Season 4 Episode 8.   

In anticipation of this year’s 145th renewal of the Kentucky Derby, StarTalk Radio’s Playing With Science show features special guest Dr. Stephen Harrison of Thoroughbred Genetics Ltd.

In this anniversary episode, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice strap on their boots, place their bets, and hop into the saddle as they explore the science of horse racing with Stephen.  

Dr. Harrison’s Thoroughbred Genetics company “uniquely utilize[s] state-of-the-art genetic technology in conjunction with an in-depth knowledge of genetics and racing to improve the effectiveness of thoroughbred breeding and performance.”

Using the audio track below or clicking the StarTalk logo above, you’ll hear what makes a great horse and why thoroughbreds have been “artificial” for longer than you might think. Discover more about genetic diversity, or lack thereof, in thoroughbred horses. Stephen tells us how he uses DNA testing to figure out what works and what doesn’t. You’ll also learn why it’s better to focus on the small nuances in genes rather than the bigger picture.

Stephen explains why this approach to the industry is similar to the “moneyball” approach in baseball. We ask, “Can data analysis go beyond breeding? Can it improve training?” You’ll hear about steroid use in horse racing, and whether or not horses are considered athletes. We discuss if genetic engineering will evolve into being a tool for the richest breeders and owners to control the sport, and, Stephen explains why thoroughbred racing is like the English soccer leagues when it comes to financial capability. 

The greatest – Red Rum on his way to winning his third Grand National at Liverpool

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