Horse racing

During Triple Crown season, I write data journalism about horse racing. Other people spend 3 hours every weekend watching football or baseball games. I spend two minutes watching a horse race, and use the time I save to analyze data and write about it.

Here are two articles I wrote on why it’s hard to complete the Triple Crown. I didn’t predict that American Pharoah would necessarily do it, but I liked his chances better than California Chrome’s. I liked Pharoah’s chances not because I thought he was a better horse, but because he had a lot less competition going into the last race of the Triple Crown.

I’ve written two articles on jockeys’ gender. 90 percent of recreational riders are women, and women are about 7 times as likely as men to meet racing’s stringent weight requirements. Yet male jockeys outnumber female jockeys by 8 to 1 —  by 50 to 1 in top races — and many male jockeys ruin their health trying to keep their weights at levels that would be healthier for women.



Over half of all US jockeys — more in top races — have Latin American names. This is not because Latin Americans are smaller than other ethnic groups. It’s more likely because Latin Americans have carved out a niche, and racing’s dangerous, insecure labor conditions have discouraged riders who have other career options.