10/30/2009 5:26PM

Juvenile Fillies a pacefig mess


  Should synthetic surfaces in America ultimately go the way of the Edsel, part of the blame will go to the chaos they've made of handicapping.

   Don't get me wrong.  I'm not a synthetic basher.  The jury is still out on synthetics, as far as I'm concerned.  But trying to make sense of the pacefigs in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies is like trying to understand the nuances of the health-care legislation.  At some point, you just throw up your hands and pop open another beer.

   In the Oak Leaf Stakes, Always a Princess was compromised by an inside post position that limited the options of Garrett Gomez, who needed to let her run from the gate to avoid getting trapped along the rail in an 11-horse field.  She set the pace on a Pro-Ride surface that has not been kind to speed, and still held for second behind Blind Luck in a second-lifetime-start performance that has understandably been lauded. Her pace figure line of 70-69-79/86 looks especially good when you notice that her quarter-mile fig was a full 15 points faster than par.

   But six days later at Belmont Park, Devil May Care held on to win the Frizette after stalking the pace in one-turn mile pacefigs of 76-79-85/89.  She was a full 2 1/2 lengths from the lead at the first call, yet that call was only 6 points faster than par.

   Does that mean Devil May Care ran a better race?  Not necessarily.  Always a Princess ran substantially slower fractions, but they may have compromised her chances, anyway, since synthetics are so much less kind to speed than dirt. 

    Do those the pacefigs mean Devil May Care should be in front of Always a Princess during the early running of the Juvenile Fillies.  Not necessarily. Johnny Velazquez will almost certainly ride Devil May Care less aggressively from the gate on Pro-Ride, and if Always a Princess gets a more advantageous post position, she absolutely will be ridden differently.


   And it gets worse.  The pace of the Alcibiades was especially slow.  She Be Wild raced in close proximity to the leaders in 51-60-76/88.  That's about 12 lengths slower at the quarter than Always a Princess ran, and about 16 lengths slower than Devil May Care ran. What does that mean to the Juvenile Fillies, exactly?  My guess is that the Alcibiades was not as strong a prep as the Oak Leaf, regardless of the similarity in final Beyer numbers.  But it's just a guess.  And I'm not even sure it's an educated guess.

   The Mazarine Stakes at Woodbine?  For the first quarter mile of that prep, runaway winner Biofuel went so slowly she would have gotten a negative-65 on the Beyer scale. From a pacefig standpoint, her closing surge in that race was stronger than any other Juvenile Fillies entrant has ever recorded, despite a moderate pace. Her 1 1/16th-mile time was almost a full second faster than the Grey Stakes for colts the next day. She was 23-1 in the Mazarine, and she might be 30-1 in here.  That's interesting to me.

   And Connie and Michael could win - or finish last.  She's going from a maiden debut victory to the Breeders' Cup in three weeks.  But her Keeneland score was not only fast, the pace was solid, as well, at least as it stacks up with other synthetic efforts: 81-87-92/91.  She can handle fake dirt, and could get a clear lead, especially since no one else will want it.  And here's another tidbit: Kent Desormeaux rode the other Kenny McPeek-trained Juvenile Fillies entrant, Beautician, to graded-stakes placings at Saratoga and to a troubled fifth in the Alcibiades.  He's riding Connie and Michael instead.