Like most sports, statistics and history are a major part of racing. For years, the definitive if not only publication that compiled years of data for North American racing in an annual volume was Daily Racing Form's American Racing Manual. But that monopoly has come to an end with the premiere issue of Thoroughbred Times Racing Almanac, covering major races of 2001 as well as the 2002 Triple Crown.
Racing fans both casual and serious will be fascinated by the articles, statistics and race results inside. The year 2001 is covered in great detail in the first section, with a complete chronology of events, including obituaries for both equine and human participants. A "State of the Industry" article details such concerns as mare reproductive loss syndrome, race day medications, the attempted sale of New York City OTB to Magna, and racing's contribution to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Following the year in review, Mary Simon's excellent "History of Racing" article is included, compiled from her always fascinating "Racing Through the Century" page that appears in the magazine. New fans get a very quick yet thorough history lesson in this article.
The statistical section is excellent. No page appears to be left unturned: the Eclipse Awards, the Hall of Fame, the Triple Crown, the Breeders' Cup, European and North American graded/group stakes and weighted handicaps such as the Experimental, racetracks by handle and attendance, people (owners, trainers, jockeys, and breeders), and the breeding side of the business are all covered. An interesting chart included was the list of "All Time Leading Earners by Deflated Dollars", where purses earned by great horses are adjusted by inflation to current dollars. John Henry topped this list, edging out Cigar and Skip Away. The only possible negative is that the stakes histories only list the last ten runnings and no chart of the most recent running is included.
The almanac also includes a useful directory of North American racetracks. In lieu of the track diagram found in the American Racing Manual, a short description of the track's history and its important races is included. The usual data one would expect, such as track records both all-time and for 2001, attendance records, handle, and a list of officials at that facility, can be found as well.
The breeding section includes two short but informative articles by John Sparkman, "Evolution of the Breed" and "Breeding Theories", excellent for all fans to gain an understanding of who the current stars of the sport descended from.
Finally, a handy reference section includes articles covering the rules of racing, handicapping a race, and a complete glossary which also includes conformation and veterinary terminology.
In short, Thoroughbred Times Racing Almanac is excellent and belongs on every racing fan's desk. You just cannot have that much useful information in such a convenient, compact format unless you painstakingly compiled it yourself or paid several times the price to purchase the competing product. Simply put, this is by far the best value for your money we have seen all year and we strongly recommend it to everybody involved in racing.
Thoroughbred Times Racing Almanac has a cover price of $19.95 and can be ordered Amazon.com for only $13.97.
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