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Clock is ticking on better workout timing


Clocking horses during morning workouts has become a complicated racing issue. The betting public demands integrity and accuracy in the reporting of works, but the obstacles for clockers -- and the cost efficiency for their employers -- are real problems.

"To do it right costs a lot of money, regardless of how you approach it," said Tim Capps, Pimlico/Laurel vice president. "Even with technology to reduce the workload, it's still labor-intensive, no matter who's doing it."

Maryland, Daily Racing Form still is the only entity with clockers at Pimlico and Laurel race courses and the Bowie Training Center. Meanwhile, sales in the local area for its new competitor, The Racing Times, have been sluggish, no doubt partly because of the lack of published workouts.

Equibase, the company that gathers past-performance data and sells it to The Racing Times, does not yet employ clockers, and a plan involving Equibase in a cooperative effort continues to stall.

Capps said last spring that Pimlico/Laurel management was working to institute a better and more efficient system for clocking, one that would be funded by the tracks, Equibase and perhaps the Form. Capps said last week that the Form wants no part of such a venture, but "it's fair to say there is still a commitment [from management] in terms of a significant number of dollars [for a new system]."

Editorials in two major racing journals recently addressed the issue of clockers and essentially came to the same conclusions. They questioned whether all or part of the considerable costs of clocking systems should be assumed by track ownerships, saying fair-market competition among the Form and the Times should develop better methods. Track owners, meanwhile, are beset by a myriad of more pressing financial dilemmas.

Few things are more aggravating for horseplayers than seeing a first-time starter with poor works -- or worse, no works -- win easily. But clockers for the Form readily admit they sometimes are overwhelmed by the morning workload. While dozens of horses are on the track at one time, one or two clockers attempt to keep abreast of what they're doing.

That is not to say the system cannot be improved. It can, it should and, according to Capps, it will. But who will do it, and when, remains unclear.


With the Woodward Stakes being run today at Belmont Park, the American Championship Racing Series comes to a dramatic conclusion.

The race-within-the-race between the ACRS points co-leaders, Festin and Farma Way, is just one of the many intriguing aspects to the Woodward. Whichever horse finishes highest wins the $750,000 first-place bonus.

all accounts, the inaugural year of the ACRS has been a success. Virtually every one of the 10 races presented an interesting angle or matchup, the series filled voids on the racing calendar and network television (ABC) was there for most of them.


Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Ky., begins its fall meeting next month with an intriguing change.

Keeneland -- and at most tracks -- entries are taken two days before a race program. Standard procedure has been that, when a race overfills, there is an also-eligibles list. And when scratches are taken some time before race day, horses from the "AE list" can join the "body" of the race in place of scratched horses.

DAt Keeneland this fall: No also-eligibles list. No scratches. If you enter and you draw in, you run -- or you scratch off the program.

a trainer enters a horse, he'll know whether he's in or not and can train accordingly," said Jim Williams, Keeneland publicity director. "It gives the owners more notice, which can be important if they want to see them run. It gives us more lead time for printing our programs. And Keeneland is such a short meet [three weeks], with everyone anxious to run, that we thought if it worked anywhere, it would be here."


Jockey Jacinto Vasquez has left Maryland to begin riding in South Florida.

Vasquez, 47, a veteran who won the Kentucky Derby twice and is fewer than 100 victories from hitting 5,000, began riding regularly in Maryland in April. But, after finishing ninth in the Pimlico jockey standings this spring, then 10th at Laurel, he left abruptly last week.

was basically unhappy about the way business was," said Bobby Vaughn, who was his agent here. "He didn't understand why he wasn't riding better horses."

ACRS standing

Point standings for the American Championship Racing Series after 9 of 10 events (10-7-5-3-1 point basis for first-through-fifth finishes):

Festin.. .. .. .. ..40

Farma Way.. .. .. ..40

Marquetry.. .. .. ..21

Jolie's Halo.. .. ..20

Silver Survivor.. ..12

Best Pal.. .. .. .. 10

Primal.. .. .. .. ..10

Black Tie Affair.. .10

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