02/11/2008 8:14PM

Pace Made the Figs


It's astounding to visualize what a combination of Saturday's Silverbulletday and Risen Star would have looked like if Indian Blessing and Pyro had run the same races against each other that they did against the clock: Indian Blessing would have been about 28 lengths in front of Pyro after six furlongs, and Pyro would have made up more than 20 lengths on her in the final five-sixteenths of a mile.

As the breakdown below of the fractions of Saturday's three 1 1/16-mile Fair Grounds stakes shows, the races were run in dramatically different fashion. This obviously affected the final times. Some might find it counterintuitive that a tiring Indian Blessing earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 winning the Silverbulletday while Pyro's supersonic finish in the Risen Star earned him only a 90, but this is entirely a function of their final times: Indian Blessing stopped the clock in 1:43.75 while Pyro took 1:44.68 to cover the same distance.

(Click here to view without slider bars.)
Both were affected by unusual paces. Indian Blessing's first six furlongs was a relatively quick 1:11.40, while Pyro was still last after the leader in the Risen Star was setting a tortoise pace of 1:14.62. Pyro himself ran his first six furlongs (using the approximation of 1 length=0.17 seconds) in something like 1:16.13.

Look at just the second quarter of the three races. All the older males in the Mineshaft ran their second quarter between 23.47 and 23.74. All of the fillies in the Silverbulletday ran theirs between 23.10 and 23.52. The range in the Risen Star was a radically slower 24.87 to 25.17.

The two races show the strengths and weaknesses of both 3-year-olds. Indian Blessing is a very fast filly but comes home a bit on the slow side. Pyro has an explosive turn of foot, but he's going to get himself into trouble falling as far back early as he did Saturday against a better field. He can obviously be closer early, but at what point does that blunt his late kick? It's a lot easier to fire a brilliant final five-sixteenths in 28.80 when you've gone 1:16 than if you've gone 1:12.

--Looks like there's an awfully good chance of a double-carryover at Santa Anita Thursday, after the first three winners in Monday's sequence paid $34.40, $23.00 and $37.80. I'm alive for three -- if I'm right in the last three. [Update: No carryover -- a chalky $3.80/$8.20/$14.40 finish led to a $668,690.80 payoff.]

As for whether you'll be able to play through NYRA on Thursday, or whether there will be any live racing in New York that day, there's not much encouraging news as of Monday evening. NYRA is preparing for a shutdown, and has posted a letter to its account-holders explaining how to get your money out.

Stephen Gonzalez-Morris More than 1 year ago
Lets not lose sight of reality here.If the pace/final numbers say it was a slow race,well its just that,a slow race.Whats being forgotten here is the fact that Pyro has performed much faster in previous races.So lets call the Risen Star result what it really was,the perfect 1st prep for this horse,because he can only move forward off of this win.
vegan More than 1 year ago
Dear George Bernard Pshaw, TDurk, my Irish brother, would be great as Chief O'Hara on "Batman." However, not every race calls for an Irish tenor singing, "Toora loora ..." "Overwrought" is a definition that springs to mind. Well and good, but it just grates to be reminded of America's love affair with mediocrity, AGAIN and AGAIN. Also, California racing is in MUCH worse shape than New York racing.
spiffy one More than 1 year ago
Also: Durkin's hilarios call at Calder of Ya-ka-hick-a-micka-dola ranks as one of the all-time great calls in history..Denman is way too uptight to even attempt to push on in a like situation..keep him on the Left Coast!!!!!
spiffy one More than 1 year ago
two things: Durkin also called harness races on the east coast and did a masterful job at that...T.D. would never have a chance with the sidewheelers...stay where you are...Trevor....2nd...Windsor Raceway in Windsor Ont. is the only Canadian track that works in dual currency, and they have done it for 40+ years...
Dan S More than 1 year ago
As I read through some of these posts I am amazed. First, I can promise if Pyro stays sound he will be my Derby choice. All people are doing is paying attention to his stretch run and rightly so because his turn of foot is perfect for the long stretch at Churchill. Did anyone notice the trouble he got into going along the backstretch, though. He tried running up in between horses before Bridgmohan slightly checked him back and settled him. I went into that race looking for a reason to doubt him and came out of the race with him as my Derby pick in February. Secondly, the sport has always had problems like what we are currently experiencing. And you know what, as much as you all want to trash talk what is going on with NYRA, medication use, and the BC, we all come back to the sport because of its beauty and excitement. The sport has a lot of work to do and they seem to want to shoot themselves in the foot, but doesn't every sport have issues? Lets take things one step at a time and have American racing ban steroid use before we start tackling other issues. That will really go a long way towards helping the breed of animals.
mark c More than 1 year ago
I am in agreement with Elsie. Durkin is too into drama in my opinion.
kevroc More than 1 year ago
re: elsie_from_chelsea Forced? Have you heard Vic Stauffer? LOL
Elsie_From_Chelsea More than 1 year ago
I guess I underestimated the sentiment for Tom Durkin. While I think he's a more than passable racecaller, I find his calls a bit jerky and his calls of big races a bit melodramatic. Denman and Dooley, in my opinion, have a better rhythm, and their emotional calls seem less forced. To each his own.
kevroc More than 1 year ago
I agree on Durkin for all the big races, he is the Master. For a night out at the track, or sitting on my couch watching simulcasts... In other words, CHEAP RACES.. I enjoy Frank Mirahmadi.. his impersonations are great and he still is able to call the race competently as well as colorfully.
James Mc. More than 1 year ago
Just had to comment on George315's characterization of the '03 Distaff. George, I can't dispute your position on Durkin, but in this case I have to call East Coast bias. You probably don't remember that the Distaff was the fourth time Sightseek ran in Cali that year, and she lost ALL four times. Once to Starrer, once to Affluent, once to Got Koko and once to the "hopeless stag" (her given name was Adoration) who nuked the Distaff field at 40-1. I remember it clearly because it was probably my biggest BC score ever. I couldn't believe how SS was pounded that day, probably one of the biggest underlays in BC history. Typically, Frankel made his usual excuses after the race about Sightseek supposedly "not liking the tracks in California", but she seemed to like them ok, running fairly typical Beyers when she finished second in each of her three previous starts on the West Coast that year. Further, in all three defeats, she had the lead late only to be overtaken. So you cannot say that she didn't lift a hoof. She had the lead and was beaten each time. She went back east in the summer of '03 to rout short fields comprised of an extremely weak bunch of NY based fillies in the Go for Wand, Phipps and Beldame and everyone got amnesia about the California defeats. Somehow, it didn't seem to occur to most people that, in that particular year, the Calfornia distaff division was just much better than the East Coast group. Easier to blame the West Coast tracks than admit what was patently obvious. I wonder how many East Coast racing fans would find it credible if Lava Man's connections blamed "unfair tracks" for his multiple losses on the road?