01/11/2013 4:03PM

Harness Racing: Track Records


Speed is the name of the game.

Trips, drivers, classification and other factors are all important, but if your horse is not fast enough the rest is a moot point.

As a harness racing nerd of sorts, the speed angle led me to some research on track records. About 90% of the tracks in North America list records on their websites. Going from site to site, I compiled a list of the fastest of the fastest at each track (I take no blame for inaccurate information or tracks that were omitted because they do not provide the information on their site).

While my main goal was as a handicapping tool, I found a few interesting facts along the way.

For the most part, all the quickest performers were from the last five years or so. Every so often I was treated to a blast from the past. Jet Laag, the gray millionaire, is still the co-record holder at the Delaware County Fairgrounds with a 1:49 mark. Justin Kin, a favorite of mine from the Open Handicap ranks at Yonkers Raceway in the early 1990’s, is still clinging on to his 1:55 clocking (shares record with Capote) that he set at Goshen Historic Track back in 1995.

Of the 33 tracks listed, 8 of the records were set in 2012 and all but one were set or tied in 2005 or later. It is worth noting that the co-fastest horse of all time, Holborn Hanover (2006-Meadowlands), is also the fastest ever at Balmoral Park (1:47 4/5).

From a handicapping standpoint, what can we do with these records?

For the most part, the records serve as a strong bottom line in attempting to calculate how fast each track is under optimal conditions. They can serve as a means for comparison when handicapping shippers. It is not an exact science, but it works.

One of the best parts of these statistics is how simple they are. There is no formula involved and no human error possible.

The fastest track on this list is Meadowlands at 1:46 4/5. Next is Mohawk at 1:47 2/5. In theory this would mean that all things being equal, the Meadowlands is 3/5 of a second faster than Mohawk. And I would say that is fairly accurate, logically speaking.

Looking further down the list, Yonkers at 1:50 2/5 is 3 3/5 seconds slower than Meadowlands, another reasonably accurate assessment. Though I might put the difference at closer to 3 seconds.

There will be anomalies on the list because some tracks do not attract top horses and have not been afforded the opportunity to record a fast mile over the last 10 years. Buffalo Raceway, for example, is probably faster than it’s 1:52 3/5 record, but without any major stakes races, the likelihood of lowering the mark is small. Is Buffalo more than 2 seconds slower than Yonkers? Probably not, but it is close.

So the next time you find yourself wondering how that Indiana Downs shipper will perform at the Meadowlands, you will have a guide to lead you in the right direction.


 Track record holders as of 1-11-13

Balmoral Park (1 Mile) BP1 1:47 4/5 Holborn Hanover 2006
Batavia BTV 1:51 1/5 Aracache Hanover 2011
Buffalo BR 1:52 3/5 Steelhead Hanover 2012
Cal-Expo (1 Mile) CX1 1:49 4/5 Eaton Road Kill 2005
Delaware DEL 1:49 Jet Laag / Ponder 1999/2006
Flamboro Downs FLD 1:49 2/5 Somebeachsomewhere 2008
Fraser Downs (5/8) FRD 1:50 4/5 Lil Dude Starbuck 2009
Freehold FHD 1:50 3/5 One More Laugh 2010
Georgian Downs (5/8) GEO 1:49 Bigtime Ball 2009
Goshen GOS 1:55 Justin Kin / Capote 1992/2008
Harrington HAR 1:49 2/5 Betterthancheddar 2012
Hazel Park (5/8) HP 1:50 2/5 Armbro David 2012
Indiana Downs (1 Mile) ID1 1:49 1/5 Foiled Again 2012
Lebanon LEB 1:52 3/5 Expensive Flight 2000
Maywood MAY 1:50 2/5 Westward Vision / Glass Pack 2006/2007
Meadowlands (1 Mile) M1 1:46 4/5 Holborn Hanover 2006
Mohawk (7/8) MHK 1:47 2/5 Won The West 2011
Monticello MR 1:51 2/5 Mypanmar 2007
Northfield NFD 1:49 4/5 Maltese Artist / Hypnotic Blue Chip 2007/2010
Ocean Downs OD 1:51 1/5 Night Mystery 2006
Philadelphia (5/8) PHL 1:48 Artistic Fella / Mister Big 2008/2009
Plainridge (5/8) PRC 1:49 2/5 Maltese Artist 2005
Raceway Park (5/8) RPK 1:52 3/5 Majestic Osborne 1993
Rideau Carleton (5/8) RDC 1:49 2/5 Lisagain 2011
Rosecroft (5/8) RCR 1:48 2/5 Nuclear Breeze 2007
Running Aces (5/8) ACE 1:51 2/5 Restless Yankee 2012
Saratoga STG 1:51 Rare Jewel / Gimmebackmybullets / Joey The Czar 2006/07/10
Tioga (5/8) TGD 1:48 1/5 Bettor Sweet 2008
The Meadows (5/8) MW 1:47 4/5 Bolt The Duer 2012
Vernon Downs (7/8) VD 1:48 3/5 He's Gorgeous 2012
Western Fair LON 1:50 4/5 Timerama 2008
Woodbine (7/8) WBN 1:47 2/5 Primetime Bobcat 2006
Yonkers YR 1:50 2/5 Sapphire City 2012

(Tracks without a size are 1/2 mile)