It may not have been the fastest nine furlongs in history, but Game On Dude’s Charles Town Classic will go down as the fastest 1 minute and 52.27 seconds of all time.
That’s because Charles Town Races announced today that it had revised the time to 1:49.93, according to the Paulick Report (here).
Kudos to Charles Town for acting quickly and decisively to resolve an issue that had race fans chattering almost from the moment Game On Dude crossed the wire, just in front of Clubhouse Ride and Ron the Greek. According to reporter Ted Black, he and other racing reporters began to question the official time almost immediately. One clue was the glacial opening fraction of the race, as the horses in this Grade II event featuring two Grade I winners apparently slogged through a 25 4/5 seconds opening quarter.
Another clue was that an earlier race — populated with horses who were, shall we say, decidedly less than Grade I animals — completed their 1 1/16 mile race in a time that would have translated to about 1:53 for nine furlongs.
Finally, Ted Black, in The Racing Biz, hand-timed the race and argued, persuasively, that the official clocking was off by more than two seconds (here). Indeed, Black estimated a running time of 1:49.84, which would have broken the stakes record by a nose (or .02 seconds).
As it is, Researcher’s stake record of 1:49.84 and track record of 1:49.76 will stand.
Charles Town’s press release suggested that the most likely cause of the discrepancies was an outrider’s pony, which may have inadvertently tripped the timing mechanism, thus starting the clock before it should have. The track re-timed the entire race by hand to arrive at the revised timing.
Oddly enough, though, it decided to use hand timings of the internal fractions as well as the overall running time. As a result, all of the internal fractions are somewhat different from the originally reported times. Most notably, the final eighth of a mile, originally clocked at 13.42 seconds, has been revised to 12.83 seconds, just shy of a six-tenths of a second adjustment. Of course, if the problem were simply a faulty trigger, then the internal fractions should have remained the same; that it re-timed the entire race, internal fractions included, suggests that Charles Town has serious doubts about the accuracy of its timing system. A phone call to Charles Town was not immediately returned.
Still, Charles Town deserves credit here: it identified a problem and took quick, corrective action. That’s a lesson that’s always timely.