YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

COMMENTARY : Horse Racing Needs Better Statistics

October 20, 1991|MARTY McGEE | BALTIMORE SUN

As Angel Cordero allegedly approached the 7,000-win milestone last week, there was a question of just how many winners the jockey had ridden.

Thursday, Cordero supposedly became just the third rider to reach the milestone, following Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay, but whether his 7,000th winner was really his 7,000th may never be known.

His winners as a teen-ager in his native Puerto Rico were not tallied by Daily Racing Form, and the pin-point accuracy of the paper's statistics are also in question.

The crux of the problem, neatly summarized in a recent article by Bill Finley in The Racing Times, is that there is no source other than the Form keeping track of racing records. Since the Form's primary function is putting out a newspaper, wrote Finley, the situation is akin to The Sporting News keeping all of baseball's official records.

Racing fans consider statistics and trivia as important and interesting as do fans of baseball or football or other sports. Plans call for The Racing Times' data collector, Equibase, to form a national clearinghouse whereby a broader and more comprehensive base of statistics would be available to the media and the public. But how valuable would such a service be, especially if it essentially starts from scratch?

"We will (soon) be racing's official data base for all races that have been run since Jan. 1, 1991," said Bill Collopy, product design supervisor for Equibase. "Before that ... we will have no control. A hundred years from now, people will be asking whether we've done a good job."

As things stand, the racing public may believe that records are relatively easy to retrieve, that there are accessible computers or files full of neatly categorized information. The thought is almost laughable.

Although the Form does a good job as racing's statistician, and its employees are willing to help writers and other interested parties, the depth, timeliness and availability of its information can be very limited. And understaffed publicity departments try to compile information relevant to their events, but a national, Equibase-type project is something far beyond their scope or responsibility.

So, was there ever a horse to win as many as 10 races in a row more than once in its career?

How many times has trainer King Leatherbury had a win percentage lower than 10, as he did at the last Pimlico meeting?

And, what is the percentage of jockeys that have won with their first mounts?

Give me until next week. Literally.

Pre-entries for the $10 million Breeders' Cup championships are due Wednesday. The eighth Breeders' Cup, to be held Nov. 2 at Churchill Downs, promises to be as exciting as ever.

Four of the seven races appear to have solid favorites: In Excess in the Classic, Dance Smartly in the Distaff, Housebuster in the Sprint and Tight Spot in the Mile.

This marks the first year for the national Pick-7, a co-mingled pool Breeders' Cup officials expect to exceed $10 million. If all those favorites win, chances are the Pick-7 won't pay the boxcar numbers some people are predicting.

But if two or three of those favorites lose, or all four, then the Breeders' Cup promotion could be right on: "Winning the lottery would only be a consolation prize."

Pick-7 betting will be available as early as two days before the Breeders' Cup at tracks taking the wager.

The New York Racing Assn. has made a couple of interesting revisions to its 1992 stakes schedule.

The Whitney Stakes will be run Aug. 29, on the final weekend of the Saratoga meeting, a session that had usually come to an anticlimax after the Travers Stakes was run the penultimate weekend. The race goes head-to-head with the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, which ends the 1992 American Championship Racing Series.

The Maskette Stakes has been renamed the Go for Wand Stakes for the filly who died in the tragic Breeders' Cup fall last year at Belmont.

There is no change, however, in the date of the Wood Memorial, which is run 14 days before the Kentucky Derby. Despite the protests of some New York trainers -- especially Nick Zito, who won the Derby with Strike the Gold in May after avoiding the Wood and other New York races -- who say the Wood is too close to the Derby, NYRA officials maintain the race is properly situated.

In its weekly newsletter, Thoroughbred Racing Communications usually lists a sire with an unusual name and some of his offspring.

Recently, the TRC revealed that Drop Your Drawers, a Texas-based sire, had had these foals: Rosy Moon, Chartreuse Caboose, Drop My What, No Peeking, Close the Blinds, Pullem Up, Only For Money, Rumbleseat Romance and Breezy Bottom.

Los Angeles Times Articles