03/24/2008 12:29PM

The Elusive 100


Maybe it's just a statistical oddity for now, and perhaps the final round of Derby preps will feature a bunch of breakout performances, but the failure of any 3-year-old to run a triple-digit Beyer in any of the Derby preps longer than a mile is going on much longer than usual this year.

The chart below gives a 10-year history of the winning Beyer Speed Figures in the six highest-grade Derby preps at 1 1/16 miles or more run so far this year, all of them Grade 2's: the Robert B Lewis (run as the Santa Catalina through 2005), Fountain of Youth, Louisiana Derby, Rebel, San Felipe and Lane's End:

In addition to this year's average winning Beyer in these six races being the lowest in a decade, this is the first year since at least 1999 that at least two of them have not been won with a Beyer of 100 or higher. From 1999 through 2004, at least four of the six were won with a triple-digit fig.

Factors involved in the decline could include a shift in training methods, with everyone bringing their horses along more slowly; few pre-Derby starts, which could mean that horses are making their first or second rather than second or third start of the year in these races; and slower-paced racing on synthetic surfaces.

It would be premature to call this a weak crop, just as I think many people went way overboard pronouncing last year's crop the greatest in a half-century. For my money, the 3-year-old class of 1987 (Alysheba, Java Gold, Bet Twice, Cryptoclearance, Lost Code, Gulch, Afleet, Polish Navy, Demons Begone, Gone West) was both deeper and faster than the class of 2007 (Curlin, Street Sense, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, Daaher, Tiago.)

C More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Satuday's DRF indicated that Vermilion's last race (February Stks) was over a straight course. I watched the race on youtube and it was clearly a left-handed race. I just to pass it on in case the PPs for international races are created using a database which stores such information.
MudhoundMojo More than 1 year ago
If someone has a gun to my head and says you must bet this race, I most certainly would consider any favorite, regardless of odds. Most fortunate for me, I have never been under such pressure to play a single race and can pick and choose which races I want too bet, freely. It almost sounds as if some people must bet a race that they handicapped. Let me ask, if you were going into each week (without a single gun pointed at your head) with the express goal to find 3 or 4 races to bet and have been doing that for 15 years, would you settle on even money favorites (when you well know that at the end of the week there will have been 10 races or more that had 5,6,7, or more to 1 shots that you liked every bit as much as any 6/5 or even money favorite)? Of course, not. It's just different mind sets, and is what makes the world go round. I think it is bad money management to bet overwhelming favorites. It was said, "You have too bet who you think is going to win the race...." Well, actually, no you don't. I would never handicapp a race, where I thought the favorite was as sure as it gets in horse racing, then turn around and try to beat him with what I think are clearly inferior horses. That's foolish, but, it is horse racing and I have seen plenty, too know, there is no sure thing. So, what too do, hmmm. Here's an idea I picked up years ago, it's called "I pass." It's a great little tool to have in your belt. There's always another race, and I feel zero obligation too bet one. Good luck too all.
Steve in NC More than 1 year ago
Steve... This has nothing to do with horses... In a relative's bathroom, I came across an ancient copy of the Harvard Lampoon's College guide (your first publishing foray?). You should post that picture of yourself in that hat(?) in the front of the book. Ah, youth.
Larry Thiel More than 1 year ago
I bet a fair amount of favorites and have no aversion to doing it. I try to handicap who's going to win and, sorry, but sometimes it's pretty certain to be the favorite. And since they do win one out of three, sometimes you have to take your medicine. The way I look at it is, it's like I made a bet with you on a football game, $5, you take Iowa, I take Iowa State. And I'd be perfectly happy winning your $5. If the best I can get on a horse I think is going to win, is even money, why not take it and be happy. I think it's bad money management to state flatly that you won't bet a favorite. You have to bet who you think is going to win the race. Handicapping the winner and then throwing him out because he wouldn't have paid a windfall makes no sense to me.
Landen More than 1 year ago
Finally the voices come out! Last year on the build up to BC day I was soundly criticized on DRF for stating the '07 crop was good but not great and if some of the top horses in '05/'06 had been running in the Classic they would be favored. Now I say this on the eve of Curlin possibly being pronounced one of the best ever, but alas I feel vindicated and a little more confident in forming my opinions about last years 3-yr olds. After all, a filly won the Belmont and wasn't even a longshot to do so.
zarpo More than 1 year ago
Flip, Court Vision is supposed to run in the Wood Memorial next weekend.
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
BRIDGE JUMPERS A good example of this was Race 1 at Santa anita on Thursday March 27/08 Go to the chart of this race to see how it works. The sucker horse (favorite at 2-5) ran 4th, but only one problem--somone bet the farm on this horse to show.He ran 4th, so all the other nags paid more to show than to place. These bets come up every now and then. The downside is that you must be at the track or else on your computer. I was surprised to see this one in Race 1,as it usually takes place in Stake races. Happens a lot at the trots, as well.
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
To George Quinn, my fears were in error, as COURT VISION is entered in the Wood Memorial with Gomez in the saddle. Gomez left one of his regular rides back at Santa Anita to ride CV. If he is up on Derby Day, looks good to me.
Larry Thiel More than 1 year ago
I see Watchmaker wants to throw out "Big Brown" because of his unfortunate post position. Don't even think about it. The same things happened to Barbaro down in Florida. They said no one ever won from that post. And of course he did. Big Brown's going to win. You could start him behind the gate, and he'd still win this race.
Jeanne More than 1 year ago
Clinton, Though it's not a handicapping exercise, many racing fans, especially those who have followed the game for a long time, enjoy comparing crops. Ranking and comparing crops and individual has been part of the game for centuries and wont stop just because (as we all know) this year's Derby winner won't have to beat Citaion or Secretariat or even Giacomo to wear roses.