04/28/2011 1:22PM

Kentucky Oaks Through Beyer Glasses


Much has been written about how none of this year’s final Kentucky Derby preps were run fast enough to have received a triple digit Beyer Figure (with a Beyer of 98, the Arkansas Derby was the fastest final prep). But not much has been written about the interesting Beyer Figure situation concerning the Kentucky Oaks fillies. So we’ll try to remedy that.

What follows is the current list of the 14 fillies on Churchill Downs’s Kentucky Oaks website who have sufficient graded earnings to start (yes, like the Derby, graded earnings may be needed this year to cap the size of the Oaks field), with their top two career Beyers on dirt:

R Heat Lightning – 100, 98

Plum Pretty – 99, 79

Arienza – 90, 83

Zazu – 89, 89

Kathmanblu – 86, 83 (she does own a 93 on turf)

Summer Soiree – 85, 73 (she has a 92 on synthetic)

Daisy Devine – 84, 80

Joyful Victory – 83, 82

St. John’s River – 83, 77

Inglorious – 81, 79

Bouquet Booth – 80, 78

Holy Heavens – 79, 79

Delightful Mary – 78 in her only dirt start (she does have an 86 on synthetic)

Lilacs and Lace – 29 in her debut in her only dirt start (she earned an 87 on synthetic)

Obviously, the gap from the top two down to the rest is striking, and might feel even bigger after Plum Pretty is placed under the microscope.

Plum Pretty won her debut last fall, and then finished third in the Santa Ynez and Las Virgenes in her first two starts this year, earning respective Beyers of 75, 77, and 79. She then exploded to that 99 last time out in her 25 length romp at 1-20 in the Sunland Park Oaks. Now, Plum Pretty could easily be an example of a young, lightly raced filly improving suddenly and dramatically, as those with quality will often do. But it is also plausible that the optimal conditions of the Sunland Park Oaks – weak competition and easy trip – enabled Plum Pretty to earn a Beyer that was aberrational, and one that would be difficult for her to approach under more competitive conditions.

R Heat Lightning was in a somewhat similar position after she earned her 98 Beyer when she ran away with the Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream in February. That figure was so dramatically higher than her previous best – higher by 16 big Beyer points, to be precise – that it was easy to be skeptical of it, especially since she had already started six times. But the big difference here was, unlike what Plum Pretty trounced at Sunland, R Heat Lightning thrashed some capable graded stakes winners in the Davona Dale.

Of course, the other big difference is that R Heat Lightning returned last time out in the Gulfstream Park Oaks and backed up the big Beyer she received in the Davona Dale. In fact, she bettered it by two points while again scoring by a lopsided margin.

So, depending on what you think of Plum Pretty’s number at Sunland, what we could have with R Heat Lightning in the Kentucky Oaks, from a Beyer standpoint, anyway, is a potential mismatch.

gary m camejo More than 1 year ago
Hi Mike, I saw the the work of Joyful Victory on Sunday, man was she awesome or what! I would pray for 3/1. To think these experts are making an issue of beyers Mike never raised his stick on her two preps at Oakland, so you fig experts will get your numbers when it matters most on Friday. So until then fasten your seat belts!
gary m camejo More than 1 year ago
Hi Mike its me again.Tell me , did I read right when Larry Jones said Mike Smith said that Joyful ranks with his two super mares Azeri and Zenyatta? WOW! Man those are some lofty ideals indeed. I wonder if Mike must be thinking what he just said .
edb More than 1 year ago
My, how things change. Get them in the gate before we lose anymore. I'll now go with a Plum Pretty, Zazu and Joyful Victory and throw in Kathmanblu for a tri box. Race is wide open now.
edb More than 1 year ago
Love the top 2 horses for Oaks, R Heat Lightning is the real deal and wheel Arienza, Zazu, Kathmanblu and Joyful Victory for 3rd and get a nice tri. Kathmanblu really struggled last time out and did not her usual kick. R Heat Lightning would embarass at least half the derby field and probably be in top five at least. Pletcher has to show he did not screw up this spring with Mo and a sweep is nice bragging rights and peace of mind. There are still weather and the draw which can really change things in a hurry. Good racing luck to everyone!
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Hi Mike, People keep mentioning Arienza for the Oaks, but I believe that it is common knowledge that she will skip the Oaks and instead run in the Eight Belles the same day. Just to set that straight. Easier spot it would seem.
Bob More than 1 year ago
The numbers show that R Heat is for real, but also watch for Zazu that has been knocking heads with Turbulent Descent. That one did pretty well when traveling east.
Frank W More than 1 year ago
Large margins produce high Byers, GP is a track that usually has wide gaps between horses at the finish. Every year horses with huge Byers at GP come north, go off huge favorites and lose.
vicstu More than 1 year ago
Vincent Bartksoki, I am well aware that Big Brown ran in and won the Derby in 2008. I had the trifecta that year... For the record, Eight Belles was NOT the second choice in the post time odds--that would have been Colonel John at 9-2. Pyro Went off at 6-1. Eight Belles went off at 13-1. Mike can verify all of this is you think I am off base. Or, better yet, look it up yourself. Big Brown was by far the best horse that year, but Eight Belles was clearly second best. The public thought Uncle John and Pyro had a much better shot. 13-1, Vincent, not 6-1... Please get your facts straight.
Plum fast More than 1 year ago
Plum Pretty will be there at the end. She has only ran four races, and finished A close 3rd in two of them to two good horses. But she has gotten better and better since then.
Henry Bullock More than 1 year ago
Wire to wire with Pants On Fire ! Yea Rosie !