Thoroughbred Report

Thoroughbred Report

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FAQ
Frequently
Asked
Questions
FAQ

Racing History - Tracks, Races, Horses
  1. Which is the oldest racetrack in North America?
  2. Which is the oldest stakes race in North America?
  3. Which fillies have won Triple Crown races?
  4. How many times has a horse won all three Triple Crown races?
   
General Horse Racing Questions
  1. What is the definition of a thoroughbred?
  2. How much does it cost to enter a horse in a race?
  3. What does it mean when a horse breaks his maiden?
  4. What are the requirements for becoming a jockey?
  5. What are the requirements for becoming a trainer?
  6. How many lengths in a furlong?
  7. What are the different thoroughbred horse colors?
  8. What is a Beyer Speed Figure?
  9. What do the different track conditions mean?
  10. How much money does the winner of the Kentucky Derby get?
  11. What qualifies a race to be a Grade 1 vs. Grade 2 or 3?
   
Wagering Questions
  1. What is a tri-key bet?
  2. How can I calculate the cost of a superfecta?
   
 
Racing History - Tracks, Races, Horses

Q: Which is the oldest racetrack in North America?
   
A:

Well, that depends on what you mean by 'oldest'.

Saratoga Race Course opened on August 3rd, 1863 and is generally considered to be the oldest racetrack in North America.

However, a case can be made for Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. While the Louisiana Jockey Club didn't hold their first meet at the track until 1872, there had been racing at that location for many years, starting with the Union Race Course which operated from 1852 until 1857. The track then reopened as the Creole Race Course in 1859, changing its name to Fair Grounds in 1863 before closing after the Civil War.

Oldest Racetracks in North America
Year Track Location
1863 Saratoga Race Course Saratoga Springs, NY
1870 Pimlico Race Course Pimlico, MD
1872 Fair Grounds Race Course New Orleans, LA
1875 Churchill Downs Louisville, KY

 

Q: Which is the oldest stakes race in North America?
   
A:

Once again, that depends on what you mean by 'oldest'.

The Phoenix Hotel Handicap was first run in 1831 at the Kentucky Association racetrack in Lexington, KY. There have been several changes of name and venue over the years and it is now run annually as the Phoenix Stakes at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington. The 2009 running will be its 157th.

The oldest continuously run race in North America is the Queen's Plate, first run in 1860 at the Carleton racetrack in Toronto. The race has been run every year since and the 150th running was on June 21, 2009 at Woodbine Racetrack, near Toronto.

The Travers Stakes was first run at Saratoga Race Course in 1864 and is the oldest stakes race exclusively for three year olds in the U.S.

Oldest Stakes Races in North America
Year Race First Track Current Track 2009
1831 Phoenix KY Assn Keeneland 157th
1860 Queen's Plate Carleton Woodbine (CAN) 150th
1864 Travers Stakes Saratoga Saratoga 140th
1866 Jerome Jerome Park Belmont Park 140th
1867 Belmont Stakes Jerome Park Belmont Park 141st
1867 Champagne Jerome Park Belmont Park 138th
1868 Ladies Handicap Jerome Park Aqueduct 138th*
1870 Dixie Pimlico Pimlico 108th
1872 Alabama Sheepshead Bay Saratoga 129th
1873 Preakness Stakes Pimlico Pimlico 134th
1874 Withers Jerome Park Aqueduct 130th
1875 Kentucky Derby Churchill Downs Churchill Downs 135th
* The 138th running of the race was in 2008. It was not scheduled for 2009.

 

Q: Which fillies have won Triple Crown races?
   
A:

Three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby: Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980, Winning Colors in 1988.

Five fillies have won the Preakness Stakes: Flocarline in 1903, Whimsical in 1906, Rhine Maiden in 1915, Nellie Morse in 1924, Rachel Alexandra in 2009.

Three fillies have won the Belmont Stakes: Ruthless won the first Belmont Stakes in 1867, Tanya in 1905, Rags to Riches in 2007.

 

Q: How many times has a horse won all three Triple Crown races?
   
A:

The Triple Crown consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Only 11 horses have won all three races.

YEAR WINNER
1919 Sir Barton
1930 Gallant Fox
1935 Omaha
1937 War Admiral
1941 Whirlaway
1943 Count Fleet
1946 Assault
1948 Citation
1973 Secretariat
1977 Seattle Slew
1978 Affirmed

 

 

General Horse Racing Questions

Q: What is the definition of a thoroughbred?
   
A:

The simple answer: if the sire and dam are thoroughbreds, then their offspring would be thoroughbreds.

The Jockey Club offers this definition: "A Thoroughbred is a horse that has satisfied the rules and requirements set forth herein and is registered in The American Stud Book or in a Foreign Stud Book approved by The Jockey Club and the International Stud Book Committee."

 

Q: How much does it cost to enter a horse in a race?
   
A:

Most maiden, claiming and allowance races do not have an entry fee. Stakes races may require an entry fee of a few hundred dollars up to over $50,000 for the Kentucky Derby.

 

Q: What does it mean when a horse breaks his maiden?
   
A:

All horses who have not won a race are called maidens. A horse's first victory is also known as his maiden victory. So, a horse 'breaks his maiden' when it wins its first race.

 

Q: What are the requirements for becoming a jockey?
   
A:

 

 

Q: What are the requirements for becoming a trainer?
   
A:

 

 

Q: How many lengths in a furlong?
   
A:

That's a tough one. Let's see if we can figure it out.

A length is usually calculated as a fifth of a second. An average thoroughbred will race a furlong in about 12 seconds, depending on the length of the race and the quality of the horse. So, that would make it 60 lengths in a furlong (12 seconds x 5 lengths per second).

Since a furlong is one eighth of a mile, which is 660 feet, that would make a length equal to 11 feet (660 feet divided by 60 lengths). That sounds about right for a thoroughbred in full stride.

 

Q: What are the different thoroughbred horse colors?
   
A:

The following colors are recognized by The Jockey Club:

Color Abbr Description
Bay B. The entire coat of the horse may vary from a yellow-tan to a bright auburn. The mane, tail and lower portion of the legs are always black, unless white markings are present.
   
Bay Tiago is a bay.
Dark Bay/Brown Dkbbr. The entire coat of the horse will vary from a brown, with areas of tan on the shoulders, head and flanks, to a dark brown, with tan areas seen only in the flanks and/or muzzle. The mane, tail and lower portion of the legs are always black, unless white markings are present.
   
Dark Bay/Brown C P West is dark bay or brown.
Chestnut Ch. The entire coat of the horse may vary from a red-yellow to a golden-yellow. The mane, tail and legs are usually variations of the coat color, unless white markings are present.
   
Chestnut Curlin is a chestnut.
Gray Gr The majority of the coat of the horse is a mixture of black and white hairs. The mane, tail and legs may be either black or gray, unless white markings are present.
Roan Ro The majority of the coat of the horse is a mixture of red and white hairs or brown and white hairs. The mane, tail and legs may be black, chestnut or roan, unless white markings are present.
Gray/Roan Gr/Ro The Jockey Club has combined these colors into one color category.
   
Gray/Roan Imawildandcrazyguy is gray/roan.
Black   The entire coat of the horse is black, including the muzzle, the flanks, the mane, tail and legs, unless white markings are present.
Palomino   The entire coat of the horse is golden-yellow, unless white markings are present. The mane and tail are usually flaxen.
White   A rare color not to be confused with the colors gray or roan. The entire coat, including the mane, tail and legs, is white and no other color should be present.

 

Q: What are Beyer Speed Figures?
   
A:

First developed by Andrew Beyer in the 1970's for his own handicapping, Beyer Speed Figures are now one of the most used tools by handicappers looking to compare the performance of thoroughbreds over different racetracks, surfaces and track conditions. [More Info]

 

Q: What do the different track conditions mean?
   
A:

Dirt Surfaces:

Fast - Dry, even and resilient. Dry to the point of needing to be watered down by the maintenance department.

Wet Fast - A brief burst of rain over a fast track can sometimes leave a thin layer of water over the formerly dry surface that produces times as fast, or faster than, a dry track.

Sloppy - A wet track with visible, standing water on the surface, but that is still firm beneath and may still produce good times.

Sealed - A dirt track may be packed down (and not harrowed) in anticipation of heavy rains so that water will run off the surface rather than being absorbed into the track. Sloppy tracks can also be sealed to even the racing surface (for safety) and help float some of the water out of the track so it will run off the surface.

Muddy - A wet track where the moisture has settled deeper into the track and which produces much slower race times.

Good - Generally a drying track that still has too much moisture in it to be considered fast. A track can also be listed as good on the way from fast to sloppy.

Turf (Grass) Surfaces:

Firm - Firm, dry, resilient grass surface. Corresponds to fast on a dirt surface.

Good - Contains more moisture than a firm course and offers slightly more give.

Soft - Course contains a significant amount of moisture and horses cut deep hoof marks into the surface when racing.

Yielding - Very wet grass course into which horses sink very deeply when running.

Heavy - A deep, often waterlogged, course that is very tiring to run on and produces very slow times.

Hard - A turf course that has not seen rain for an extended period and is so dry the grass is dying and horses kick up a cloud of dust as they run over it.

   
Q: How much money does the winner of the Kentucky Derby get?
   
A:

Mine That Bird won the 2009 Kentucky Derby and probably only got an extra carrot or peppermint for winning. The winning owners' share of the $2,177,200 purse was $1,417,200, out of which the winning trainer and jockey each get 10%.

 

Q: What qualifies a race to be a Grade 1 vs. Grade 2 or 3?
   
A:

In the simplest terms, a Grade 1 race is a race for Grade 1 horses. The goal of assigning a grade is to make the race attractive to horses of similar quality. Owners and trainers want their horses to run where they can win the largest purses and earn the prestige of the highest stakes grades. Assigning grades helps owners and trainers pick the best possible races for their horses.

The best horses usually race fewer than a dozen times per year and have careers that only last a couple of years, at most. It makes little sense for a Grade 1 horse to run in a Grade 3 race - while he should win easily, there's more money and prestige to be earned in a Grade 1 race. Likewise, it makes little sense to run a Grade 3 horse in a Grade 1 race - there's little chance of winning and an opportunity has been missed to win at the appropriate level.

If a race with a lower grade can consistantly attract better horses than its grade level, usually by offering a larger purse, it will eventually earn a higher grade. Conversely, if a graded stakes race fails to attract top horses, it is in danger of having its grade reduced or even eliminated.

Every eligible race in the U.S. is reviewed on an annual basis by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) and is assigned a grade based primarily on the quality of the horses that have raced in it.

Graded Stakes Requirements

- Races must meet minimum drug testing, medication and safety requirements.

- Races must be unrestricted, except by age and sex.

- Races must meet minimum purse requirements (2009):

Grade 1
$300,000
Grade 2
$150,000
Grade 3
$100,000
ungraded
$75,000

For 2009, the Committee reviewed 746 unrestricted races with a purse of at least $75,000 and assigned grades to 488 of them.

Grade 1
115
Grade 2
159
Grade 3
214

So, it's the grade of the race that determines the quality of the horses that run in it and it's the quality of the horses that run in the race that determines the grade of the race.

For more information: TOBA: Graded Stakes

   

Wagering Questions

Q: What is a tri-key bet?
   
A:

A trifecta, or triple, requires you to pick the first three finishers of a race, in order. One way to bet the triple is to 'box' 3 or more horses so that you have every combination covered. For instance, a three horse triple box of numbers 3, 5, and 9 is actually 6 bets: 3-5-9, 3-9-5, 5-3-9, 5-9-3, 9-3-5, 9-5-3. The bet would be a winner if those three horses finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd, in any order. A four horse triple box is 24 bets and would be a winner if three of the horses finish first, second and third.

Another way to bet the triple is to 'key' on one or more horses. For instance, if you were sure the 5 horse was going to win but unsure which order the next two horses would finish, you could ask for a 'triple key' 5 with 3,9 - this would be two bets: 5-3-9 and 5-9-3. You can 'key' a horse in any position. If you wanted to cover the possibilty that the 5 horse could get caught at the wire by one of your other horses, you could get another ticket with a triple key 3,9 with 5 with 3,9 - this would be another 2 bets: 3-5-9 and 9-5-3.

Suppose you found a live longshot that you were sure was going to finish in the money, but you were less sure who the other two horses in the triple were going to be. You could buy a triple key with your horse in each position with all of your other contenders. For instance,

Triple Key: 5 with 1,3,7,9 with 1,3,7,9
Triple Key: 1,3,7,9 with 5 with 1,3,7,9
Triple Key: 1,3,7,9 with 1,3,7,9 with 5

 

Q: How can I calculate the cost of a superfecta?
   
A:

Boxes and single horse keys are easy to calculate. For anything more complicated, you can download Horatio Kemeny's free Exotic Wager Calculator which also calculates costs for exactas, trifectas, Pick-3's, etc.

Examples:

5 horse exacta box = 5 x 4 = 20 combinations
5 horse trifecta box = 5 x 4 x 3 = 60 combinations
5 horse superfecta box = 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 = 120 combinations

$1 Exacta Box costs:

2 horse box = $2
3 horse box = $6
4 horse box = $12
5 horse box = $20
6 horse box = $30
7 horse box = $42

$1 Trifecta Box costs:

3 horse box = $6
4 horse box = $24
5 horse box = $60
6 horse box = $120
7 horse box = $210

$1 Superfecta Box costs:

4 horse box = $24
5 horse box = $120
6 horse box = $360
7 horse box = $840

$1 Superfecta Key costs:

key 1 with 3 horses = $6
key 1 with 4 horses = $24
key 1 with 5 horses = $60
key 1 with 6 horses = $120

 

 
 

 

 
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