The thoroughbreds are at the starting gate for the seventh annual Great Race, a year-long tracking of 10 typical consumer investments.

Stocks, bonds, precious metals and savings instruments are competing for the title of best investment for 1989.The Meyers Report placed a hypothetical $1,000 "bet" on each pony during the opening hour of trading on Jan. 3, and we will follow each investment's progress on a weekly basis. Fees, commissions and earnings will be factored in, where and when applicable.

The weekly values for all the market investments are based on each Wednesday's market close.

The 1989 racing form:

- Over the Counter Stock (OTC) is based on the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASDAQ) composite index of common stocks. This broad-based index generally follows newer and less expensive stocks.

The NASDAQ Composite index number appears in the "Rate" column on the left side of The Great Race.

- Money Market Funds are interest-bearing savings accounts (with limited checking) offered by the Wall Street crowd. The rate is calculated weekly, and interest is compounded daily for Great Race purposes. There are no commission charges.

The average yield in the rate column is an index made up from the seven-day yields of nine major funds: Merrill Lynch Ready Assets, Kemper Money Market, Dreyfus Liquid Assets, Cash Management Trust, Daily Cash Accumulation, Paine Webber Cashfund, Shearson Daily Dividend, Fidelity Cash Reserves, and Dean Witter/Sears Liquid Asset fund.

- Lipper Mutual Funds is an index of 30 mutual funds calculated weekly by Lipper Analytical Services, Inc., considered to be the best authority on mutual funds.

Dividends and sales commissions are factored in. On Jan. 3, we purchased 25.06 shares at an average price on $38.03. A commission charge of 4.68 percent was paid for 1989. The new average share price will appear each week in the rate column.

- 31/2-year Certificate of Deposit (CD) is a longer-term, non-liquid investment with no commission charges available at the average U.S. bank or savings association. The yield on the certificate purchased Jan. 3, 1989, is 8.53 percent, and is based on The Meyers Report weekly survey of the nation's financial institutions. The annual yield appears in the rate column.

- 90-day Treasury Bill will be held until maturity, then rolled over at the market rate each quarter. The T-bill will be rolled over twice more during the year, once in July and again in October.

On Jan. 3, our 90-day T-Bill was yielding 8.04 percent. The yield is listed in the rate column.

- Gold Coins (U.S. eagle) are the easiest way for consumers to invest in this "inflation hedge." On Jan. January 3, each U.S. gold eagle Gold Eagle was worth $426, and we purchased 2.28 coins with a 3 percent commission charge.

- Silver bullion is based on the price per Troy ounce of the precious metal on the New York Commodities Exchange (COMEX). On January 3, silver was priced at $6.02 per ounce. We then purchased 163.96 ounces, and paid a $20 sales commission. Each quarter, we also will pay a slight storage fee.

- Our 30-year Treasury Bond was purchased from a Federal Reserve Bank and thus carried no commission charge. On Jan. 3, the long bond was yielding 9.08 percent and will mature in 2018. Interest earned will be added weekly.

- Blue Chip Stock is a horse created from the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks. Price changes reflect the proportional changes in the index. An average dividend is added quarterly.

- Muni bonds is based on an index of tax-free municipal bonds from the Bond Buyer magazine. On Jan. 3, 1989, the yield to maturity was 7.77 percent, and the price per share was 100.04.