I have taken the code and gone a little further, but I need to be able to 
protect myself against commas and single quotes in names.

How is it the best to do this?

so in my file I had on line 44 this trainer name.

"Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes" 

and in line 95 this horse name.

this throws of my capturing correct item 9. How do I protect against this?

Here is current code.

import re
from sys import argv

def out_file_name(file_name):
    """take an input file and keep the name with appended _clean"""
    file_parts = file_name.split(".",)
    output_file = file_parts[0] + '_clean.' + file_parts[1]
    return output_file

def race_table(text_file):
    """utility to reorganise poorly made csv entry"""
    input_table = [[item.strip(' "') for item in record.split(',')]
                   for record in text_file.splitlines()]
    # At this point look at input_table to find the record indices
    output_table = []
    for record in input_table:
        if record[0] == 'Meeting':
            meeting = record[3]
        elif record[0] == 'Race':
            date = record[13]
            race = record[1]
        elif record[0] == 'Horse':
            number = record[1]
            name = record[2]
            results = record[9]
            res_split = re.split('[- ]', results)
            starts = res_split[0]
            wins = res_split[1]
            seconds = res_split[2]
            thirds = res_split[3]
            prizemoney = res_split[4]
            trainer = record[4]
            location = record[5]
            print(name, wins, seconds)
            output_table.append((meeting, date, race, number, name,
                                 starts, wins, seconds, thirds, prizemoney,
                                 trainer, location))
    return output_table

MY_FILE = out_file_name(FILENAME)

# with open(FILENAME, 'r') as f_in, open(MY_FILE, 'w') as f_out:
#     for line in race_table(f_in.readline()):
#         new_row = line
with open(FILENAME, 'r') as f_in, open(MY_FILE, 'w') as f_out:
    CONTENT = f_in.read()
    # print(content)
    FILE_CONTENTS = race_table(CONTENT)
    # print new_name

if __name__ == '__main__':

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