11/04/2008 5:05PM

Horse of the Year? Beyers, etc.

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Here are the winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's stakes races:

*Best of Luck (Aqu):  Storm Play (J. Jerkens/J. Velazquez) - 109
*Long Island (Aqu):  Criticism - GB (T. Albertrani/J. Castellano) - 102

*Nashua (Aqu):  Break Water Edison (J. Kimmel/A. Garcia) - 98
*Zydeco (DeD):  Captain Buddy (V. Arceneaux/K. Clark) - 98
*Buck's Boy (Haw):  Stonehouse (J. Broussard/P. Compton) - 98
*Dream Supreme (CD):  Elope (B. Levine/J. Leparoux) - 96
*Ontario Fashion (WO):  Porte Bonheur (D. Duggan/C. Hill) - 96
*City of Phoenix (TuP):  Shesa Private I (B. Hone/G. Corbett) - 96
*John Henry (Med):  Hotstufanthensome (B. Perkins Jr./J. Bravo) - 95
*Dance in the Mood (Hol):  Queen Ofthe Catsle (H. Zucker/V. Espinoza) - 94
*Yankee Affair (Pha):  Whistle Pig (A. Carter/E. King Jr.) - 94
*Chilukki (CD):  Leah's Secret (T. Pletcher/R. Douglas) - 93
*Pocahontas (CD):  Sara Louise (D. Romans/R. Albarado) - 90

*Mademoiselle (DeD):  Coach Mike (T. Ritchey/G. Melancon) - 89
*Brandywine (Pha):  Just Jenda (J. Jones/T. Thompson) - 89
*Tempted (Aqu):  Livin Lovin (S. Klesaris/R. Dominguez) - 87
*It's In The Air (Hol):  Model (N. Drysdale/M. Baze) - 87
*Gardenia (DeD):  Collectzcat (R. Spencer/D. Simington) - 86
*Lightning Jet (Haw):  High Expectations (C. Janks/C. Emigh) - 85
*Cocodrie (DeD):  Southern Invasion (K. Bourgeois/G. Melancon) - 85
*Iroquois (CD):  Capt. Candyman Can (I. Wilkes/J. Leparoux) - 84
*Powerless (Haw):  Nicks (C. Janks/R. Fogelsonger) - 84
*Illini Princess (Haw):  Stop a Train (C. Janks/P. Compton) - 84
*Sun Power (Haw):  Devil's Halo (R. Hazelton/C. Silva) - 83
*Lea County Sprint (Zia):  Ducky Drake (B. Hone/M. Villa) - 83
*Witches Brew (Med):  Heckuva Good Time (M. Shuman/J. Lezcano) - 83
*All Brandy (Lrl):  Sales Tax (H. Smith/M. Franklin) - 81 (*Ten Bolts finished first with 82 Beyer, but was dq'd to second)

*M2 Technology La Senorita (Ret):  My Spanx (A. Milligan/M. Escobar) - 78
*Sharp Cat (Hol):  Pamona Ball (E. Harty/R. Bejarano) - 77
*Scarlet and Gray (Beu):  Conjuress (W. Danner/E. Paucar) - 76
*Princess Elizabeth (WO):  Retraceable (M. Casse/P. Husbands) - 74
*Finger Lakes Juvenile (FL):  Momsboy (J. Tebbutt/E. Castillo) - 73
*Skyy El Joven (Ret):  Valid Message (E. Williams/C. Bourque) - 71

*Showtime Deb (Haw):  Happy Henrietta (S. Fridley/T. Thornton) - 67
*Michigan Futurity (Pnl):  Mr. Conclusive (S. Adkins/T. Houghton) - 60

*John Kirby (Suf):  Wheelie (D. Cerundolo/C. Dooley) - 56
*Norman Hall (Suf):  Same Day Pleasure (L. Lockhart/D. Amiss) - 54

*Bill Wineberg (PM):  Chief Jafatica (J. Fergason/M. Anderson) - 46
*Michigan Juvenile Fillies (Pnl):  Moon Charmer (R. Gorham/F. Mata) - 46

*Janet Wineberg (PM):  Catalina Harbor (J. Fergason/M. Anderson) - 34

Here are the lifetime past performances of the Highest and Lowest Beyer stakes performers of the week:

Download StormHarbor.pdf

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Dan,
I noticed in your most recent post HG analysis that you said you were "Leparouxed."  I've seen several comments about Leparoux on the blog that have been less than favorable, but never any direct mention of  his shortcomings .  On the whole, I've had pretty good luck when I use him.  Like all jocks, occasionally I find myself wanting to reach through the screen and smack him, especially when he leaves himself too much to do on turf.  But for the most part, I haven't seen things that upset me too much.  I'm curious for those of you who don't like him, what are your reasons?
Thanks!
brutus

Leparoux is obviously a top rider, but he sometimes can get a bit too "fine" with his mounts.  Lots of times, he'll sit and wait, and that can take away his horse's best attribute...his speed.  In the HandiGambling race, it looked like his mount was a serious pace player, but Leparoux not only took her off the pace, but placed her in a tight spot in and among rivals.  That may work for an experienced runner, but it can take a lightly-raced baby out of the game.  When it came time to pull the trigger turning for home, the barrel was predictably empty. 
It's possible that this is all just sour grapes from me as Leparoux doesn't win too often when I'm on board with him.  Still, I'd like to see him a bit more aggressive with front-running types.

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Now, here's a question for the brain trust. Especially in those "chatty" Brisnet PPs, you see comments about "second or third from layoff, due to improve".
Is there a general wisdom  that most/all horses come back to run better from layoffs only after a couple of tries?  Would someone please explain to me what's the thinking behind these prognostications?  I would have thought it's pretty individualistic - some horses might rarin' to go after a time away from a race.  What's the rationale behind a supposed two or three times the charm?
Thank you!  I always appreciate learning from the experts.
Katieattherail

The prevailing thought behind the angle is that a horse may not be trained up to the optimum performance level for the first start following a layoff, and will improve as it races itself into shape (shakes off the rust).  I've found it to be a strong angle, but it can't be taken as gospel.  Some trainers have their charges ready to fire straight off the bench.  Look at Midnight Lute.  He hadn't raced in two months prior to the Breeders' Cup Sprint (and had only one race in 2008 prior to the BC).  The layoff didn't bother him one bit due to the excellent training job by Mr. Baffert. 
Perhaps it would be wise to handicap trainers more than horses as it pertains to form cycles.  Which trainers do better second or third back than with first-time layoff horses? 
Also, it would probably help to discern the circumstances surrounding the layoff.  What precipitated the freshening?  Was the horse injured or simply off form and needed a break?  What is the horse's major goal?  Is this race (the return) at a distance shorter than the horse's best?  Does that make this race a prep for something longer?
With horses going second off the layoff, we must ask, "Did the horse get enough out of the return run, or will he need another race before he's 100% sharp?"
So many questions, so little room for error.  Form analysis is certainly a difficult part of handicapping, but when the peak of the form cycle is correctly predicted, it can lead to a windfall at the windows. 

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Dan, have you used the Moss Pace figures ? If so what is your opinion of them ?
Barry

I've used them sparingly.  It's not that I don't like them, but I've grown accustomed to the homemade pace figures I've used for the last several years, and am too stubborn to change up my process.  The few times I have used Moss Pace Figures, I've found them to be an interesting tool.  Unfortunately, I don't have enough experience using the product to form a strong opinion.

Can anyone out there with user experience help Barry out?

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Dan, since I won HG107 by a nose, if I still get to pick the race for HG108, I choose the Rare Blend Stakes (1 1/16 on the turf) which is the 7th race at Aqueduct on Wednesday.  I think it'll be a competitive race with some early speed and some good closers.  I checked the weather report and it should be dry from now until Wednesday so the race should stay on the grass.  Anyway, that's my suggestion, let us know...
Leo

Sounds good to me.  Here are the past performances.  Also, my co-host for the 'Race of the Day' video on the DRF homepage, Mike Beer, has selected that race for Wednesday's ROTD.  You can view our take later tonight.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the HandiGambling race:

Download HandiGambling108.pdf

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Talk to you tomorrow,

Dan