"track record"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Nov 18 19:01:14 UTC 2010

At 1:41 PM -0500 11/18/10, George Thompson wrote:
>  > According to the OED, "track record" derives from horse racing.
>>  Whether horse racing qualifies as a "sport" is open to question:  The
>>  activity is covered in the "sports" section of newspapers, but I
>>  always wonder who is the athlete--the horse or the rider or the owner.
>The horses are often referred to as athletes by turf broadcasters,
>anyway.  I maybe don't see it in written racing commentary.  The
>jockeys are certainly athletes.
>I recall many years ago a column by Red Smith in which he grumbled
>at the misuse of the expression "track record", which, in horse
>racing, doesn't mean a horse's record as a racer, but the fastest
>time ever run on a specific track for a specific distance: as, the
>track record at Saratoga for a mile and 3/8 on dirt is . . .
>"Wine Police (7th, $7.10) jumped out to the lead, shook off Mythical
>Truth and favored Soldat turning for home, and widened to a 7
>3/4-length debut triumph in 1:03.36, just missing J Be K's 5
>1/2-furlong track record of 1:03.13 set in 2007."  (from a recent
>horse-racing blog by Dave Liftin, who also writes for the Daily
>Racing Form; found by a Google search for "track record" saratoga)

A speculation, totally unsupported empirically:
Perhaps there was an intermediary use where a horse's "track record"
denotes the record (in the sense of 'history', not that of 'best
result') of a particular horse on a particular track or course.  This
is sense in which, say, Blame was favored by many (although not most)
observers to outrace the previously undefeated Zenyatta in the recent
Breeders' Cup showdown because of his excellent track record at
Churchill Downs, where the race took place.  (Which of course he did,
by a nose.) As they (apparently) say, he was "a horse for the course".


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