When does a gelding become a gelding?


We considered “The Unkindest Stat” as a headline for this post but resisted. Let’s cut to the chase: If you’re trying to come up with playable statistics based on the “Reported Gelding” information that Equibase began highlighting this fall, you’ve lost your compass as a horseplayer. Let’s get it back right now!

The background, as old as the hills: A subset of horseplayers considers information on a horse being newly gelded to be gold because some horses will show a significant change in form brought on by the sudden elimination of hormonally driven behavior. You’d like to run an accurate study confirming or debunking that concept, wouldn’t you? The “Reported Gelding” data is neither intended nor viable for this use. Just say no to statistics based on this reporting.

With a strict literal reading, as intended, the “Reported Gelding” data is just fine. The key word is Reported. Meaning that if a hypothetical horse (let’s call him Hypothetical) is “reported” as a gelding on November 5th, here’s what you can surmise:

1) An owner, trainer, or racetrack reported to The Jockey Club Registry on November 5th that Hypothetical had been gelded;

2) On November 5th, the Jockey Club Registry changed Hypothetical’s pedigree information in their database to reflect the report on the change to Hypothetical’s physical status;

3) Equibase then assimilated the information in its data feed, and made available to the public (via its site and via licensed North American data providers) the date and time that this change to the Registry took place.

As for the actual procedure date of when a horse was gelded?

There is no report of the procedure date. Indeed, this is precisely why Equibase chose the words “first time since reported as gelding” rather than “first start as a gelding.”

OK, but are all trainers (or owners, or racetracks) reliably reporting this information so that the horseplayer can rely on it for first-time gelding information?

No, they’re not. California is considering some strong rules, and some jurisdictions seem to do a nice job with their local horse population, but exceptions across the country are plain to see. Let’s see how plain and reset that compass.

Here’s a typical example from the first-time geldings entered in North American Thoroughbred racing on Saturday December 26th.

Turf Paradise/Race 8/December 26th
#11 Russian Dancer
Last raced on 12/10/2014 at 6:15 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 12/10/2014 at 5:59 PM EST.

Do you believe that Russian Dancer was gelded 16 minutes before he raced?

Of course not. December 10th was nothing more (or less) than the date it was brought to Equibase’s attention that he was a gelding.

Let’s be as clear as we can on the sequence here:

1) Sometime before his December 10th race, Russian Dancer was gelded. Recovery time from this procedure? Two or three weeks is typical, as we understand it.  The gelding procedure must have been considerably before the December 10th report date.
2) Russian Dancer was entered (on roughly Dec 6) to run on December 10. The entries for Turf Paradise didn’t show he was going to be runn​ing as a first-time gelding, because at that point Equibase didn’t have that data.
3) At some point on December 10th Russian Dancer was reported as a gelding to the Jockey Club Registry, who passed along that data to Equibase just before the race.
4) Equibase then passed it along in their data feed to all Past Performance providers, but it was too late to impact the past performance data many of you would have seen before the Dec 10th race. Yes, it may have been announced on track earlier, but data making it into PPs is another story.
5) Russian Dancer finished second at 7-1 on December 10th, and was then entered back to run on December 26th. At this point the Dec 10th reporting date of the gelding was associated with entry data. And so for his December 26th race (from some providers) Russian Dancer was now “First-Time Reported Gelding.” Even though the data says the gelding was reported prior to his December 10th race.
One more time: We’re not sure exactly how long before his December 10th race Russian Dancer was gelded, but the Jockey Club Registry first reported the change 16 minutes before the race was run.

Of the 14 “first-time” reported geldings entered to run on December 26th, at least 5 (and perhaps 7) of them look like Russian Dancer: reporting took place on the same day as the prior race.

December 26th “Reported Gelding” entrants in North American Racing

Turf Paradise/Race 8
#11 Russian Dancer
Last raced on 12/10/2014 at 6:15 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 12/10/2014 at 5:59 PM EST.

Fair Grounds Race 6
Dually Affirmed
Last raced on 12/5/2014 at 3:00 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 12/5/2014 at 3:32 PM EST.

Fair Grounds Race 6
Last raced on 11/30/2014 2:55 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 11/30/2014 at 1:05 PM EST.

Delta Downs Race 10
Last raced on 11/28/2014 at 9:24 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 11/29/2014 at 6:29 PM EST.

Charles Town Race 4
Last raced on 10/29/2014 at 8:00 PM EDT.
Reported gelding on 11/5/2014 at 9:14 AM EST.

Turfway Park Race 9
Smack Down
Last raced on 12/11/2014 at 10:16 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 12/11/2014 at 10:10 AM EST.

Tampa Bay Downs Race 5
Half Wed
Last raced on 10/29/2014 at 9:13 PM EDT.
Reported gelding on 12/3/2014 at 11:08 AM EST.

Santa Anita Race 5
Life’s Journey
Last raced on 10/12/2014 at 7:52 PM EDT.
Reported gelding on 10/18/2014 at 10:47 AM EDT.

Santa Anita Race 3
Call to Race
Last raced on 10/4/2014 EDT 6:46 PM EDT.
Reported gelding on 10/10/2014 at 4:15 PM EDT.

Santa Anita Race 2
Oh Brother Go
Last raced on 11/27/2014 at 2:01 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 12/1/2014 at 11:52 AM EST.

Laurel Race 6
Patriot Saint
Last raced on 11/19/2014 at 2:01 PM EST.
Reported gelding on 12/20/2014 at 3:36 PM EST.

Gulfstream Race 9
Last raced on 3/30/2014 at 3:04 PM EDT.
Reported gelding on 3/30/2014 at 6:44 PM EDT.

Gulfstream Race 6
Gifted Ruler
Last raced on 11/21/2014 EST at 1:06 PM EDT
Reported gelding on 12/20/2014 at 11:23 AM EST.

Golden Gate Race 3
Prince of Paris
Last raced on 11/13/2014 EST at 4:01 EST.
Reported gelding on 11/22/2014 at 3:19 PM EST.

For now and for the foreseeable future, here’s how we’re going to handle this First Since Reported Gelding info in TimeformUS PPs:

  • We won’t be including “First Since Reported Gelding” as one of our Trainer Moves.
  • When a horse’s “Reported First-Time Gelding” report date is the same as a race date, it will be listed below the running line, reflecting the likelihood that the gelding took place before the last race.
  • When a horse’s “Reported First-Time Gelding” report date is after the race date, it will be listed above the running line, reflecting the greater possibility that the gelding took place subsequent to the last race.

Example of a below-the-running-line display when the Gelding Report is from the same day as a race:

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 9.43.41 AM

Example of an above-the-running-line display when the Gelding Report is from any day subsequent to the race.

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 9.46.07 AM

We urge you to be cautious and understand that first-time gelding information, rather often, isn’t going to make it into your PPs until after the gelded horse has already run.

And we urge you to disregard any broader statistics culled from this data.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 12.20.47 PM

This entry was posted in Data Studies, Player's Point of View, Product features, Race Previews. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to When does a gelding become a gelding?

  1. MICHAEL MAYS says:



  2. Harry Wreams says:

    How sad is it that the powers that be can’t provide reliable, timely, accurate information on a sport where billions are wagered?


  3. Very good info…most players don’t even know what you are talking about! This is who we wager against…… Scary!


  4. jay t. baer says:

    note the drf now gives trainer statistics on how they preform with their 1st x geldings, to date in limited sample the roi is seemingly higher than the bl. on/off change or dist as dirt to turf, continued analysis of a trainers roi on this eq. change should be monitored from the trainer angle. I have emailed drf and u for over a year to try and do your best to allow us punters to have this info. Allow me to do with it as i should, i.e. on 12/26 at SA lifes journey ran second at 34/1 and the exacta paid a healthy 244.00.. The first x after a Vet.(my sister) explained the changes that take place when gelding a horse can be significant to their athletic performance, I bet at SA a 40/1 shot mdn on the turf in the last race my betting partner disagreed as i wanted to go in after the tri. I bet him win and exacta. he paid 84.00 and i had the dbl. and exacta, ergo why i am hooked on this statistic. I only play NYRA and S. Cal. along with GP in winter and have found doing my handicapping with this eq. change is much more important than all the other eq. changes!!!! I realize the imperfections in the gelding issue but who ever said this game was an exact science and since when should i trust the times at certain tracks, note the rail changes at GP and race times – variable to say the least. Thanks for putting this change in TF and continue to dismiss its importance to your followers, please.


  5. Rick Baldwin says:

    I agree with with Mike Berry,you have certainly cleared a muddle up.
    I do use that angle,but only as a last resort when looking to fill out a ticket.


  6. Sangu says:

    Is there any statistics on horses winning races after “first time since reported gelding”?
    This is an irrelevant info but as a piece of info.


  7. punt16 says:

    While I don’t use first off gelded status as an angle, I appreciate TimeformUS cleaning some of the mildew off this data. Nice work. Your analysis of the topic may come in handy as jurisdictions consider more timely/accurate reporting requirements.


  8. Mike berry says:

    You guys nailed it! As owner of Acclaimed Racing Stable,I recently viewed the Gelded info in Drf & immediately & obviously just realized how totally irrelevant the info was when chking the dates & prior & next race! Great Job



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