JC / Railbird

About that Record

Not to take anything away from Presious Passion, who was a most visually impressive repeat winner of the United Nations Handicap at Monmouth on Saturday, but I suspect it’s wrong to chalk up his final time of 2:10.97 as a new course record. Let’s go to the fractions …

In 2008, Presious Passion sprang an upset in the United Nations going wire to wire. On that day, he went :24.44, :49.16, 1:14.31, 1:38.76, and 2:02, finishing in 2:13.88, yielding splits of :24.72, :25.25, :24.45, :23.24, and :11.8.

On Saturday, Presious Passion again went wire to wire (opening up lengths early), going — according to official time — :19.80, :45.20, 1:09.81, 1:34.67, and 1:59.07, finishing in 2:10.97, a time that, if it stands, knocks nearly two seconds off the course record set by Balto Star in 2003. Those fractions yield splits of :25.4, :24.61, :24.86, :24.4, and :11.9. Presious Passion ran almost the same race as he did in 2008, but for that freaky fast first quarter.

Could there have been a timer error?

Curious, I timed the first quarter of the United Nations repeatedly this morning (using this video and a stopwatch), coming up with :22.8, :22.6, :22.5, and :22.6. Still fast, but not record-defying, and more in line with both earlier turf races on the card and Presious Passion’s splits for the rest of the race. Assuming :22.6 or so is correct and that the following fractions are similarly off, that means Presious Passion finished the United Nations in a time more like 2:13.7 — respectable, but no record.

Addendum: Wondering about records on the turf, I looked up the current North American record holder for 1 3/8 miles, With Approval, who set not only a stakes record, but a world record, of 2:10.26 for the distance in the Bowling Green Handicap at Belmont Park on June 17, 1990. While impressive, the New York Times did report, “[the time] deserves a footnote: Belmont’s are the only turf courses in the country where 11-furlong races are run around two, rather than three, turns. Cougar’s record of 2:11 in the 1972 Century Handicap at Hollywood was around three turns.”

Following up on a couple tweets: o_crunk points out a new turf course was installed in 2006. Since, several records have fallen, the clocks may be suspect, and credit must be given to English Channel, who set the 11-furlong turf record in the new era after running the 2007 United Nations in 2:12.89. Also of interest: Over on PaceAdvantage, a poster says the run-up is 64 feet. That’s all helpful info, especially regarding where the timer starts.

Mystery solved? And the record holds: Steve Crist posts tonight that Presious Passion’s first quarter was :22.20 and lists the rest of the fractions unchanged. So, he was flying early and late. Monmouth expert o_crunk wasn’t kidding about the turf course being speed favoring.

One last thing: BSF for the United Nations, 106 (Form Blog).


Only in thoroughbred racing do we now insist on measuring with teletimer in 100ths of a second yet we do not count the run-up distance between the gate and the first (start) teletimer.

Does Michael Phelps need to get in high gear before we start timing his laps ?

Posted by The_Knight_Sky racing blog on July 5, 2009 @ 4:23 pm

You raise a good point — where does the timer start on an 11 furlong turf race at Monmouth? I watched and timed the 2008 replay to get a sense of that before timing the 2009 edition’s first quarter and final and it’s more than possible I didn’t catch the right point to hit “start.” But something seems off, or confusing.

Posted by Jessica on July 5, 2009 @ 7:57 pm