Earlier this week I wrote in the Saratogian about the rewards and difficulties of researching racing history; Superfecta took an excellent look at the work of archivists following the disastrous flooding at Churchill Downs.
Friday, I turned my attention to the first running of the Test, the 96th running of which takes places today at Saratoga, and which was first run in 1922. That first Test was run after the Alabama and at a mile and a quarter; Nedna had beaten Emotion in the Alabama, and the Test was essentially a match race between them, with Emotion getting the nod in the rematch.
Earlier in the year, Emotion had finished second in the Coaching Club American Oaks; in the fall, she beat older males at Laurel and was second in a race at Pimlico. Pedigree Query identifies her as the champion three-year-old filly of 1922.
That struck me as odd; while she was clearly a good horse, nothing that I uncovered would seem to put her in the champions’ league. What did she do that made her a champion?
And here, we hit the wall.
The Eclipse Awards began in 1971; prior to that, “the Thoroughbred Racing Associations and the Daily Racing Form separately honored racing’s annual champions,” according to the TRA. But the earlier three-year-old filly listed on the TRA website is Unerring in 1939.
So here are my questions:
Was Emotion three-year-old filly in champ in 1922?
If so, who determined that she was?
If so, on what basis did she earn this title? As far as I can tell, she had one big win and a bunch of good seconds.
Next step: check out Emotion’s lifetime past performances and see just what she did to earn this accolade…if earn it indeed she did.
I cracked myself up with THAT thought. Yeah, right, lifetime past performances.
Not unless I want to get myself to the Racing Museum or maybe the public library, or call someone up and ask a favor. “Excuse me, would you mind digging up the lifetime past performances of a fairly obscure filly who won the first running of the Test? Oh, yeah, and could you get them to me within 24 hours?”
On July 4th on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday, Andrew Rasiej of the Personal Democracy Forum talked about the availability of government information in the wake of the civic unrest in Iran. In discussing the effects of technology on citizenship, he noted that part of the definition of “public information” needs to be that it’s “freely available online.” He posits that information is not public if it’s available only inside a government building and available during limited hours, or for a fee.
Now, I’m not arguing that whatever Emotion accomplished—or didn’t—in her life is on a par with the availability of government information to its citizens. But consider it: racing information, freely available online. I get kind of Emotional when I think about it…
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