09/12/2011 11:25AM

Four Fastest Beyers So Far This Year

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Maybe it’s because they are so fast they can’t be caught to put a saddle on them (just kidding, in case you weren’t sure), but I find it interesting that the four horses with the four highest Beyer Speed Figures this year at any distance on any surface have a total of only eight 2011 starts between them. Here are thumbnail profiles on this quartet:

Big Drama, last year’s champion male sprinter, owns 2011 highest Beyer, a sensational 120 earned in his impressive romp in the six-furlong Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream on January 15. Big Drama went away after that performance, reportedly to rest up for a late summer and fall campaign. His first published workout after the Mr. Prospector was a three furlong breeze at Calder on July 31. Big Drama did not have another published work until August 21, when he breezed a half mile at Calder, but he came back a week later and worked a handy five furlongs. A week after that, Big Drama faced three outclassed opponents in Calder’s Whippleton Stakes, and won by 2 ½ lengths. Big Drama’s Whippleton Beyer was 88, 32 points lower than his Mr. Prospector fig, and 20 points lower than the number he got for winning the race that clinched him the 2010 male sprint title, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. This, plus his spotty published work schedule, has a Nervous Nellie like me a bit concerned. But all reports have Big Drama on target for the Vosburgh at Belmont on October 1.

M One Rifle is the first of three horses who have earned Beyer Figures of 114 this year. After finishing a tired fourth and earning a 95 Beyer in the Potrero Grande at Santa Anita on April 3 in his return from a nine month absence, M One Rifle received his 114 a month later for his narrow win over Cost of Freedom in the five furlong Cool Frenchy Stakes on the Cushion Track at Hollywood. M One Rifle tailed off to a 103 Beyer next time out when he finished third (he was moved up to second on a disqualification) in the Los Angeles Handicap, and he fell to an 89 when seventh in the Triple Bend in his most recent appearance. Although M One Rifle has not raced since July 2, his four starts this year make him by far the most active of this quartet. And four published workouts since August 15 suggest he is well on his way to a return to action, perhaps in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita on October 8.

Maclean’s Music made as strong a racing debut as anyone could ask for when he won a six furlong straight maiden race at Santa Anita on March 19. After posting fractions of 21.24, 43.48 and 55.05, Maclean’s Music ran off to score by just over seven lengths in 1:07.44, earning his 114 Beyer. Maclean’s Music had four published workouts after his debut, the most recent on April 18, but has not been seen since.

Shrewd Operator, the other to have earned a 114 Beyer this year, also has only one 2011 start. That outing came on June 25 on Arlington’s Polytrack in the White Oak Handicap going six furlongs, which means that all four of the highest Beyer Figures earned so far this year came in races at distances of six furlongs or less. Shrewd Operator, who was making his first start in almost 11 months in the White Oak, set the pace and ran off to win by nine lengths as the 5-2 favorite. He did not work for 51 days after that, but he does have five published workouts since August 15, and seems close to his return.

Here’s a link to the past performances for this quartet for you to peruse, and scrutinize:

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PGM More than 1 year ago
Mike, I don't think Shrewd Operator belongs in the class of Big Drama or these other high-Beyed sprinters. There are three main knocks against him: 1) He runs well when he gets the lead. And ONLY when he has the lead. 2) The stakes victories have been in State-bred competiition. The Illinois-bred stakes division, while it has its leaders and stars, isn't of the highest grade. It's not the California or Florida or New York breds where you have those horses moving up to open stakes and beyond. Aside from Dunkalk Dust last year in the Falls City during Churchill fall, statebred stakes winners usually get in too deep at the open listed stakes level. 3) The Arlington Polytrack had a pro-inside speed/pro-rail bias from Mid May to just before the July 4 Holiday, with the state-bred festival stakes falling in that window. Since SO runs best on the front end, he also got a surface that plays to his strengths. While he's in the capable hands of Chris Block, I think he'll come back at Hawthorne in the fall for their Illinois Festival, a six-pack of six-figured statebred stakes. Only if he's able to get a clear lead on the dirt would he get my wagering cash.
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
Mike... I have examined the PP's for Shrewd Operator at length. I learned to handicap in the era before the Beyer Figures were posted in the Form. Please help me comprehend (how I can make sense of this) these two races from a "purely reliant on Beyer" (PROB) perspective. Below are two races that S.O. ran at Arlington Park. The one on top took place on September 9, 2009. S.O. ran as the betting favorite and like the race below that, was never headed at any point in the race. For the race on 09/09/2009, he was awarded a Beyer figure of 104. The race below that (I list that it happened on 06/11, but it was really June 25, 2011... but I'm trying to make it easier to read and compare), he was awarded a Beyer Speed Figure of 114. The way I learned to handicap, I was always taught to pay attention to the Speed Figure (SF) and the Variant (V) on that day. What I'm having a difficult time comprehending is that S.O. ran 3 (three) lengths faster (SF=96) on a Variant that was 2 (two) tics faster that particular day (is that the track's or Equibase's or DRF's variant calculation?... please reply separately) versus the SF93 - V17. I always thought that the higher the Variant, the slower the track was. If this is true and he actually ran 3 lengths faster on September 9th 2009, how can his Beyer figure be 10 points lower? Even when I take into consideration that he was running a 93 on a 17 Variant, it still seems strange to me that S.O. is almost 10 percent off in his Beyer performance rating/speed figure. Does this make any sense to you... or is what I'm asking too strange for you to ask Mr. Beyer for me/we bloggers who have an interest in learning more about these types of anomalies? Mike, please reply at your earliest convenience. I'm not trying to rattle any cages, I'm just trying to learn more about this game and am confused by such a large discrepancy. 09/09= 9AP fst 6f :22.2-:45.2-:57.2-1:09.1 3Alw 40300N2X 104 4 1 1 1 1 1 L118b *1.90 96-15 ******************************** 06/11= 2AP fst 6f :22.1-:45.0-:57.0-1:09.4 3/S WOakH89k 114 1 3 1 1 1 1 L119b *2.50 93-17 (MW - The "track variant" number - the number after the dash - is calculated by comparing the day's raw final times against the three-year best time at the distance. In some instances, this can be indicative of how fast or slow the track was that day, but not always. The "variant" is also often indicative of the quality of horses that ran that day. For example, you could have a track that was equally fast on two different days. But if one day's card is populated with a bunch of maiden claimers, and the other day's card is full of stakes races, the stakes horses are just going to run much faster than the maiden claimers, and thus produce a much lower track variant, even if the track on these two days was equally fast, or slow. If you follow this, then you can see how the variant might in no way be indicative of how fast or slow a racing surface actually is. Since Beyer Figures do far more accurately account for how fast or slow a racing surface is on a given day by measuring how fast horses run against how fast they are supposed to run, and not an arbitrary three-year-best time, this is just one way how a horse can earn a much higher Beyer on a day when the variant erroneously suggests the track was very fast. Hope this clears this up.)
pittsburgh jd More than 1 year ago
No offence to anyone but Beyer numbers are not the way to pick a winner or judge a horses performance. It's an outdated handicapping tool. On a side note how about that NY bred Compliance Officer. What a claim and what a turn of foot.
Ben More than 1 year ago
Maclean's Music's dam, Forest Music...outstanding debut at Laurel for owner Mike Gill back in 2003. If I remember right they ran her right back in the BC Juvenile Fillies and she finished last? Pretty sure she went on to win a few overnight stakes before being sold to Stonestreet, and she won a G2 at the Spa for Asmussen. Her second foal (1/2 to MacLean's Music) out of Street Cry just went for $1.2 million at the Keeneland September sale. Wouldn't be surprised if that one also went to Asmussen for owner George Bolton.
Johnny Bwell More than 1 year ago
Worried about Big Drama? That race was a glorifed workout! He will be fully cranked come 11/5.
manuel diez MD More than 1 year ago
Very interesting in deed, the breeding is producing horses that are extremely fragile, just speed not staminaand, the four are what we used to call "speed balls" and on top of that, it hurts to say it, crippled, they will be put to stud duty and they shall produce more cripples. The financial interest of the breeders is destroying the sport, I stopped buying horses to race because practically all of them broke down, the big trainers? they just ask to the poor owner"buy me another horse, it was bad luck", NO is not bad luck, they are cripples. To put a mare to breed that has not raced is a crime, the poor foal is crippled and perhaps PETA is right, I could go on and on but enough now, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ventilate. Manuel Diez. PS. I can not pass this, the South American horses are winning the classic distances, no wonder.
Rene Donastrg DE More than 1 year ago
Excellent point Manuel. For some of us horse racing is not all about financial gain but the long term welfare of the horse.
Jack More than 1 year ago
Note that MacLean's Music is out of Forest Music, who had one of the fastest debuts ever for a 2yo filly in '03.
Bill Daly More than 1 year ago
I think you've just confirmed what we all know: the modern thoroughbred may be capable of brilliantly fast performances on occasion, but requires a lot of rest between performances - especially when they run too fast for their own good. Sometimes they never come close to repeating those performances. This is most notably seen with young lightly raced horses. A horse may break his maiden and run a huge Beyer, but almost always will bounce on the comeback. Nothing new here.