Earlier this week, Steve Zorn of The Business of Racing suggested that I write about horses who have been named after hockey players. “Excellent idea!” I thought. He referred to Alex Kovalev and Zubov (two of the first four Russians to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup. Who can name the other two without doing any research?); I recalled Toccet, Dubinsky, Eric Lindros, Sean Avery, Tikkanen. I’m sure that there are others.
Eagerly, I began the research. A simple Internet search yielded little. Pedigree Query was, unusually, almost worthless. My reliable New York Times let me down. A quick cruise through Trackmaster didn’t seem to offer the option of searching for a specific trainer or horse, so while, yes, I uncovered that Sean Avery was trained by Allen Iwinski (thank you, New York Post)…I had no idea how to find out if, and where, Iwinski has any current runners, so that I could use Trackmaster to get the his and his horses’ records over the last five years, and thus see when Sean Avery last started.
I thought that perhaps Formulator might make this research a little easier, but the hefty price tag (approximately $1,000 a year) seemed a little steep for the sort of research that I need, which does not generally yield the opportunity for profit, as handicapping research does. And: I don’t really know for sure whether Formulator offers this sort of information. (I’m sure that someone will let me know.)
So I quickly got to that place that I hate, that place where I am cursing the lack of available general information about racing. It feels so frustrating to hit this wall when I want to get more information about a horse. Why can’t I find Eric Lindros? Or Sean Avery? Or Alex Kovalev? Where is that reasonably-priced (free, I know, is way too much to hope for) database into which I could enter a horse’s name and get some fairly detailed information? (If it’s out there and I’m missing it–fill me in, please.)
Detailed information on the humans, both current and former players, was plentiful on multiple sites; I can understand (though I don’t necessarily agree with) keeping performance information proprietary on current race horses…but the retired ones? Is there really significant profit in withholding statistics and records for retired race horses? (If there is, someone, I am sure, will enlighten me.)
For what it’s worth, here’s what a couple of hours of research yielded:
Pedigree Query offered Toccet’s race record, and this editorial comment:
While he clearly possessed immense talent, Toccet was campaigned in a curious
fashion and may have never reached his full potential. Sold for $3.35
million at the 2004 Selected Fall Mixed Fasig-Tipton November Sale. Entered
stud in 2005. Standing at Castleton Lyons in Lexington, KY.
The few other bits of information I found noted that a spelling error during registration caused the colt’s name to be spelled differently from his hockey-playing namesake.
Pedigree Query offered pedigree information and nothing else on Sean Avery, on Zubov (born the year before the Rangers’ Stanley Cup win), and on Dubinsky, who is a son of Toccet—nice touch there. Nothing on Eric Lindros appears in Pedigree Query, fueling the opinion of people like me that just like the player, the horse doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves.
Tikkanen earned $1.5 million and had his best year in 1994, the same year that his human counterpart won his fifth Stanley Cup. That year the France-based colt won the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Turf Classic Invitational, and he placed in four French stakes races. Articles in the Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Times discuss his not-too-successful stud career; the Finnish forward seems to have been reasonably successful in the breeding shed, as he has at least two children.
Searches for combinations of the words “hockey player,” “names,” “horse,” “Thoroughbred” yielded no shortage of suggested pages, due largely to the common characterization of tough, strong men on skates. “He’s a horse” is one of hockey’s highest compliments, and this comparison yielded the one satisfying little gem in my mostly unproductive and rather frustrating endeavor. From Joe LaPointe in the New York Times, on the then-17-year-old Eric Lindros:
”Lindros is blessed with size and ability. This guy can go over the top of you.
He’s a horse. If he had two more legs, he’d be running at Aqueduct.” (March