The Art of Clocking Horses
Published in North American Trainer, Winter 2017 issue.
Time, an old racetrack axiom holds, only counts in prison.
But that ain’t necessarily so to horse players and horsemen worldwide who depend diligently on mathematical mavens called clockers to provide thorough, accurate, and prompt figures that might help cash a bet or win a race.
Clockers, succinctly described as people who time workouts, ply their trade at tracks from Aqueduct to Zia Park, zeroing in on Thoroughbreds and their exercises from before sunup until the track closes for training, a span of some five hours.
There are private clockers, too, whose primary interest focuses on padding their wallets or making their valued information available to the public for the right price.
They all watch like hawks, displaying the close-up intensity of a movie directed by Sergio Leone, often adding a comment such as “breezing” or “handily,” the latter being the most accomplished workout.
Each track later in the morning sends its works to Equibase, which publishes distances and times of said workouts for all to see, a regimen that has been ongoing for decades...