02/08/2009 1:37PM

Brave New World

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If all goes according to plan over the next eight weeks, Stardom Bound will make her next start against males, in the Santa Anita Derby April 4. Last year's champion 2-year-old filly will come into that race with four consecutive Grade 1 victories, an assumption that she'll only get better as the races get longer, a growing bandwagon of supporters and a crush of media attention -- and the kind of last-out speed figure that usually make horses 20-1 in Derby preps, not the toast of American racing.

Does it matter?

There's nothing complicated or ambiguous about the low final-time rating Stardom Bound will earn on anyone's speed figures for her winning seasonal debut in Saturday's Las Virgenes. Santa Anita ran four consecutive graded stakes from 8 to 9 furlongs Saturday, and Stardom Bound's mile in 1:36 was by far the slowest of the four:

There are three major mitigating circumstances to her performance: pace, trip and fitness.

While it's hard to rate her final-time performance any higher than an 84 considering that Motto Mondo ran nearly two full seconds (and 18 Beyer points) faster winning the off-the-turf Thunder Road one race later,  there was a huge difference in the paces of those two races. Motto Mondo stalked Monterey Jazz's blistering fractions of 45.61 and 1:09.59, while Stardom Bound was last early in a Las Virgenes where the fractions were 47.62 and 1:11.90. She ran her final quarter in just about 24 flat. faster than Motto Mondo did, and that may well be more significant than the pace-hampered final time.

Also, Stardom Bound was boxed in around the turn, and nimbly shot through the brief opening that presented itself in upper stretch. Once clear, she dominantly put away her overmatched rivals. and she did it all in a spot where, trainer Bobby Frankel said before and after the race, she was nowhere near fully cranked up for a peak effort.

Nor was Pioneerof the Nile, who won the G2 Robert B Lewis with a Beyer of 94 in another race where the pace was mild. Four lengths behind a six-furlong time of 1:12.18, Pioneerof the Nile finished strongly, running his final 5-16ths in about 29 seconds flat.

Evaluating these efforts is part of the brave new world of synthetic-track racing, where races are run more like turf than dirt events, final times may be less important than come-home times, and the usual blend of speed and stamina may be changing. Neither Stardom Bound nor Pioneerofthenile has ever raced on dirt, and both could come into the Kentucky Derby as gigantic question marks.

Nor is it at clear where Cowboy Cal, who won the Strub with a mediocre Beyer of 96, fits into the handicap ranks after a pair of narrow victories in G2 races at Santa Anita. He's been first or second on grass and synthetic in 8 of 10 career starts; his other two races were double-digit defeats in his only dirt efforts. The first eight finishers in the Strub finished only two lengths apart, usually not a promising sign of high quality.

The Beyers aren't up yet for Saturday's Fair Grounds races (update: they are now, see chart), where the three graded dirt stakes were all run at a mile and a sixteenth. The 5-year-old Honest Man, last year's Iselin winner, ran almost a full second faster (1:44.16 vs. 1:45.11) winning the Mineshaft H. for older horses than Friesan Fire did taking the Risen Star for 3-year-olds. Between those two races, War Echo showed sharp improvement on her prior form winning the G3 Silverbullerday for 3-year-old fillies in 1:45.20, just nine-hundredths off the Risen Star clocking. The daughter of Tapit (also the sire of Stardom Bound) finished well after being restrained behind the quickest opening six furlongs among the three races -- 1:12.64, as opposed to 1:13.04 in the Mineshaft and a pokey 1:13.64 in the Risen Star.


--The Triple Crown nominations were released late last night and the tally was 401, down from 449 last year and a record 450 in 2007. Churchill Downs and Triple Crown officials attributed the decline to the national economic downturn. Horses can still be nominated by March 28 at a penalty late fee ($6,000 rather than $600.) Click here for a list of the 401 early nominees.

Merrill More than 1 year ago
Beyers?? Final times of individual races?? ...Time in any race only means what needed to be served by the animal for that individual effort. The only speed figures that were worth any amount of beans over the past 30 yrs, was the speed/variant in the DRF. Unfortunately some yrs back they screwed that up. So, Class, anticipated pace, potential closing capabilities, NEVER consider the time of ant race, Period..
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
Bulletin!!Thursday 2-12-09 At Fairgrounds, SALTY WAVE was scratched out of Race 9. The horse now surfaces in Race 4 at Gulfstream on turf, with a 10 pound advantage in weights, due to using an apprentice. ML is 20-1. I hope you know what to do. I know I do!!!!
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Good Lord...i have one big play today at FG and Flipper touts him! Its Entourage.... but i fear Flipper's influence on the tote will knock my price down! Actually, he does not appear to be one of the top 3 betting interests, since Asmussen and others have entries....but it is one of my favorite angles at FG. Its trainer Wes Hawley on the drop, and that has been a good play, historically.
Pat from LI More than 1 year ago
rawlawltd, Been doing OK overall for the meet. Did get blanked at Big A yesterday... I have been trying to be very selective in my plays. Some of those nightcaps have been enough to keep me away from the late pk4. Cat Radio busting a pk4 certainly does hurt...
jon smith More than 1 year ago
have a question, what does it mean in the conditions of a race when they say, "which has never won 7500"? I thought the win part of the purse on those types of races are way more than 7500. I may sound stupid, but it is just not clear to me.
jon smith More than 1 year ago
Does anyone else find that Santa Anita is tough to play because of the pro ride? The horses run like at the trotters or something. When you have the speed it collapses. When you need the closer is looks like they have no chance. If you have the stalker, it just comes up empty. I used to love to play there, but, I am giving up on "pro ride" and all other synthetic surfaces.
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
Flipper Dawson Calls The Races Two losers on Wed. One other won, paying $11 and change but was short of the 6-1 tote rule. ----------------------------- Gulfstream Park Race 2 --BROOKLYN BOY is #9, and offers 4-1 on ML.We'll hope he climbs up in tote action. Race 4--SMARTGABRIELLE sports a nice ML of 15-1 while wearing saddlecloth #5. Possible surprise play. Race 6 ---#3 AQAB is 6-1 and looks like tote action will happen. Top turf breeding. ----------------------------- Santa Anita Race 5 --#2 is CASABLANCA at 8-1. This is BEST BET of the day. Race 7 --#3 is SOMETHING SONIC. This race is on the main track. 15-1 in the ML. Could pay more. Forget turf here; this one comes well primed to do damage on our lovely PRO RIDE surface. ----------------------------- Fairgrounds, New Orleans Race 5 --#5 is ENTOURAGE at 6-1. Play along if he is 4-1 at post time.Looks like easy winner. Race 9 --#3 SALTY WAVE can end the day on a positive note. The ML of 12-1 is too good to be true. Best of luck on Thursday. One good hit will even things up.
Jeff Tatus More than 1 year ago
Let me be the first of all the bloggers to be colored "incredulous" with regard to the Jockey Club's Performance Rates. bruce_friday says: Stardom Bound finished no better than 24th in the Jockey Club ranking of 2 year old fillies in 2008. Their Performance Rates had Stardom Bound six or seven lengths behind top rated Gemswick Park and Sky Diva. (The Performance Rates are calculated by the Jockey Club's Information System Group and do for class roughly what Beyer did for speed.) It seems plausible to me that Stardom Bound may deflate when she gets off of plastic and on to dirt. Midshipman, by the way, rated 39th amongst the 2 year old colts of 2008. (Old Fashioned was top rated.) I know these rankings will leave most blog readers incredulous, but the Performance Rates may be worthy of consideration when looking for hidden value. Sergeant Friday... I will make sure I get the Performance Rates right after the Zenyatta and Stardom Bound (if she remains injury free) exacta payoff later this year at the Breeder's Cup on synthetic at Santa Anita (again). IEH may talk all kinds of smack before the Santa Anita Derby... but if IEH has any real sense, they will take a shot at knocking Zenyatta off her throne. If they can pull that off later in the year, instead of reaching for a loftier goal of beating the boys, they will do themselves and the sport a better service. I agree with others that Stardom Bound wouldn't run as well on dirt as a stone cold closer unless the 3 year old male crop was as poor as last year. Without Dutrow running the show (and his mouth) for IEH, Frankel has a more diminutive filly (Ventura) who can knock off the boys at 7 Furlongs or a Mile on turf or Poly.
Jeff Tatus More than 1 year ago
With all due respect to the Stardom Bound analysis, I don't think this horse has even reached a top. My belief is that SB was only about 85% (percent) cranked for that race and really hasn't raced against any really good fillies out West. The BC run wasn't that great and neither was the field either. I have a sneaking suspicion that SB will run to the level of competition (much like but not near the same as Zenyatta) and that it will take some serious fillies to bring out her best game. Now that IEH has her, their egos will get in the way and they will shoot to pull off a Belmont-like miracle similar to Rags-to-Riches. I still think the Big Z (Zenyatta) could beat most of the boys on either coast. That horse will run to the level of competition... no questions asked. As far as the Big Flipper goes, I've always liked his input and enthusiasm for our game. I think that he's just been on a "nice roll" as of late and is writing what most of us proclamate (when we're on a nice roll) when our friends and associates ask us, "Who do you like?" Tell me none of you have ever done this... ever... Ol' Flip will calm down soon enough, he's just bored to death in that cold and snow up North and his posting on this blog is just as streaky as our racing luck is; it comes and goes. Good luck, Flipper Dawson... and keep proclamating... Best wishes to all of you.
Pat from LI More than 1 year ago
Jeff, My ROI out of town is not near how I do at NYRA regardless of the time of year. Perhap due to my somewhat limited time to devote. This year I made a decision to stick to what works for me and follow NY as closely as I can and devote my play here. Different strokes for different folks I guess... Good Luck!