Unlike the official charts, trip notes accurately tell you how wide the animal was on the turns, the most important portions of the race. There are no vague and frequently misleading statements such as "came out seven wide for the drive" or "four wide backstretch" or "entered the stretch six wide." Trip notes let you know where the animal actually was when it counted the most, on the turns.

If the animal was primarily three wide but sometimes four wide on the turn, the note will read "3-4T." If the animal was five wide on the first turn and four wide on the far turn, the trip note will state "5FT, 4T."

Trip notes inform you if an animal broke behind his field, how many lengths he spotted his rivals, and if he is in the habit of leaving the gate slowly or if this was an isolated incident. "SG2 as ever" denotes that the horse broke two lengths behind the rest of his field, as he always does.

And, of course, trip notes will state if there was a track bias or if a jockey turned in a dreadful ride.

While we cover only New York racing year round, we include the Keeneland Spring meet for our subscribers as well, since many of those animals make their next start on Long Island, especially in turf races. Since grass racing has yet to begin in New York at the time this is being written, hereís a turf race comparison from the current Keeneland meet that contrasts the difference between the official charts and trip notes:
The official chart for the ninth race at Keeneland on April 14, 2005:  Our trip notes for the same race (caps added):
RELAXED GESTURE (IRE) lunged out at the start, quickly recovered, gained a forward position, worked his way near the inside, went along under patient handling, wrested command from between foes in the upper stretch and was going away under hand urging at the end. RELAXED GESTURE again SG3 breaking outward, moved up in the run to the FT, 3FT, stalked, middlemoved into contention inside, steadied ET, split horses 2 late T, dueled 3/16th pole, quickly drew off midstretch.
BRITISH BLUE, away in good order to gain a forward position in behind horses, moved with the winner while inside that one in the upper stretch and couldnít match strides late as second best. BRITISH BLUE bumped start, 2-RFT, prompted, bid 2 early T, dueled leaving, no match for the winner, followed her home.
QUASSAPAUG, within easy striking distance and five wide, was put to a full drive three furlongs out, continued in a challenging position into the final furlong and failed to fire. QUASSAPAUG SG1 & bumped, 3FT, moved up widest late back, bid 5T, brushed upper stretch, evenly.
PEACE EMBLEM angled in early, tracked the leaders five or six wide, gained about even terms for the lead nearing the stretch but faltered the last eighth. PEACE EMBLEM back to SG1, 4FT, prompted outside, dueled 4 midT, couldnít stay with the winner leaving.
EXCELLENT CUT (IRE), unhurried early, raced four or five wide, was within striking distance into the final furlong and came up empty. EXCELLENT CUT 2FT, inside, rallied 3-2T, steadied along while blocked 3/16th pole, steadied along, steadied midstretch, evenly.
MISTO QUENTE (BRZ) came out at the break bumping RIVERSIDE BLUES, was checked and squeezed back in tight, was outrun to the stretch, swung out for the drive and improved position while unable to menace. MISTO QUENTE reluctant, dragged into the gate, SG1&1/2, bumped twice, steadied, steadied along in tight quarters in run to FT.
RIVERSIDE BLUES, bumped at the start by MISTO QUENTE (BRZ), never menaced. RIVERSIDE BLUES bumped start, 2FT, far back, rallied R late T, bumped coming out leaving, taken up in traffic early stretch.
THE MIGHTY TIGER, outrun to the stretch, passed tired horses. THE MIGHTY TIGER SG3, 3FT, 2T, bumped leaving.
STATESMAN, well placed between foes three or four wide to the stretch, weakened thereafter. STATESMAN 3-2FT, checked, steadied early backstretch, never far back, moved up 3T, bumped upper stretch, tired midstretch.
GRAND SCOREforced the early pace and tired after six furlongs. GRAND SCORE used in pace.
REDEFINED gained the advantage inside early, drifted out six or seven wide on the backstretch, maintained the lead for six furlongs and faded. REDEFINED drifted 3FT, set a pressured pace outside, was passed late back, regained the lead ET, dueled 3-2 late T, tired early stretch.
Compare the two versions, then look at the tape of the race and decide which one is clearer, more accurate, more relevant, and gives you a better grasp of what actually happened.
Thatís a turf race with a large field in which you might expect a sizable difference between the charts and trip notes. What about the use of trip notes in a small field in which no major difference in trouble lines exists?

Fair question. The comparison of a six horse race on Aqueductís inner track that we used last year still provides an interesting contrast.
The official chart notes for the eighth race at Aqueduct on March 2, 2004: Our trip notes for the same race (caps added):
SECRET RUN quickly showed in front, set the pace along the inside, drew away in the stretch and was ridden out to the wire. This was effectively over after SECRET RUN walked the quarter in 23.49; under a hold setting very slow pace slightly off the rail, opened up ET, RT, drew off upper stretch, not threatened.
BLACK SILK (GB) was in hand early, rallied four wide approaching the stretch and finished gamely outside. BLACK SILK steadied and shuffled back between horses early, steadied along, steadied late back, 2 early T, rallied coming out 5 late T, finished well.
TRIAL PREP raced inside and lacked a rally. TRIAL PREP SG, steadied early, inside, steadied along just before a quarter, RT, up for a distant 3rd.
BRUCKERíS BROTHER chased the pace while three wide and tired in the stretch. BRUCKERíS BROTHER again pushed into the gate on the 2nd try, again SG1, hustled up to prompt outside, tired 3-4 late T.
TEAM PLAYER chased the pace from the outside and tired after a half mile. The others had no mishaps.
The trip notes caught the pace factor, the runnerupís two trouble lines that the chartcaller missed, another pair of trouble lines on TRIAL PREP, the gate problems with BRUCKERíS BROTHER and the fact that he was breaking slowly for a second straight time.

The differences are readily apparent, even when you havenít been given the very few abbreviations that are used in the trip notes. They provided a true picture of the race. Once again we invite you to compare these two versions with the actual videotape of the race.

As a follow-up, BLACK SILK, coming off a good effort despite a tough trip, won next out; SECRET RUN, coming off a slow pace in which he almost had to look good, was sent off at 3-5 in his next start, dueled in fast fractions, and backed up to finish last. The next best thing to having a winner is avoiding a loser.