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.
- “What would be fair odds on American Pharoah?” Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. 2015.
- “Is the Belmont Stakes too long for modern horses?” Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. 2016.
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.
- “Riding more female jockeys could save thoroughbred racing.” CNN.com. 2017. With Caroline Rutherford and Kerry Keyes.
- “Gender and weight among thoroughbred jockeys: Underrepresented women and underweight men.” Socius. 2017.
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.
- Source: “The rise, fall, and rise of Hispanic jockeys in America.” Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, 2017.