02/11/2008 7:14PM

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.

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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.