02/06/2008 4:09PM

Q&A 2/6/08


oweyouadollar says: 4: 0-2-1. That's Hystericalady's record on synthetics. Yes, I know she Beyered a 104 on synthetics once. But this is a mare who is 7 for 12 on dirt, lifetime. She loves to win. Just not on synthetics. I realize it doesn't fully explain how badly she ran in the Santa Monica. And I realize there was nothing in the field. And I didn't play the race. But I thought beforehand, when I read your blog: why buy into her as a sure thing, given that she has so clearly been a horse who prefers dirt? Given that this is effectively a new synthetic surface she is trying, couldn't she just hate this one even more than the others?

Interesting points all, and a good illustration of how confusing these new surfaces can be.

My quick answer is that Hystericalady still should have beaten this field running backwards. As you note, she did run a 104 Beyer on a synthetic, and her three previous synthetic starts were a second and third in G1's and a second in a G2. So how much does she really "hate them" and why shouldn't she have trounced four much slower and less accomplished rivals?

The bigger and more interesting point is whether we can make any predictions at all about how a horse who may or may not appear to like one type of synthetic surface will fare on an entirely different synthetic. Does performance over the synthetic Polytrack at Del Mar, where the G1 Pacific Classic was run in over 2:07, have any predictive relevance to how a horse will run over a Cushion Track producing half-miles of under 43 seconds? Is the key point natural vs. artificial, or fast vs. slow, or bouncy vs. tiring? Beats me.

el_angelo says: Stupid question: if the Magna 5 is such an abomination (and I agree that it's a terrible bet) why are you playing it at all?

I was asking myaself that very question after passing up what turned out to be a haveable, overlaid Gulfstream late pick-4 last Saturday for my 2-for-Magna 5. (I didn't want to play both because of the overlapping Donn.) I guess my best answer is in the question posed by jcp, who asked "Am I missing something, or wasn't the Magna 5 pay-off pretty generous considering the prices of the 5 winners?" It sure was: The parlay of the five winners ($18.00, $9.40, $5.40, $14.00 and $8.60) was $6,873.44. The Magna 5 payoff was $16,956.40.

jlwood says: In watching the LaHabra, I see that SA posted a final time of 1:14+ while DRF and Equibase charts have a final time of 1:13.52. Any idea about the discrepancy? The internal fractions in print match up with those on screen.

Santa Anita briefly put up a final time of 1:14.19 for the La Habra, but it was quickly corrected to 1:13.52. The original time would have meant the field came home in a slow 6.57 final sixteenth instead of the more plausible 5.90. It wasn't the day's only posting error: The six-furlong time of the Robert E. Lewis was initially posted as 1:14 and change and then corrected to 1:11.41.

vegan says: Didn't Teleprompter run the first 6f. in 1:27 or so in the Arlington Million ? Even mighty Greinton could not run him down after that.

Since the final time was 2:03 4/5, I don't think they went 1:27 for the first six furlongs and 36 4/5 for the final half-mile. But maybe someone else can find the actual six-furlong split for the 1985 Million -- the chart's not in the 1986 American Racing Manual, presumably because the Million was not a graded race yet, and I can't find it in anyone's pp's in "Champions" because it doesn't appear that anyone who ran in the '85 Million ever won an Eclipse Award. Can anyone help?

[Update: DRF Senior Editor Irwin Cohen informs: The ¾ time for Million (indexed in the 86 ARM charts as the Budweiser-Arlington Million) is 1:16 3/5. Also, I think the Arlington Million was a G1 every year but the first, in 1981.]

otbtony says: Is Barrier Reef legit? His maiden win, though slow, awed me.

Barrier Reef ran just as well winning the ungraded Whirlaway as Crown of Thorns and Eaton's Gift did winning G2 races last Saturday, and his performance had a few other things to commend it -- he made an explosive middle move during the race, was wide on a track where the inside may have had the better footing, and he ran down a perfect-trip, rail-hugging leader. He needs to take a big step or two further forward but he could impove with more distance.

steve_davidowitz says: I have said and written in several forums that I think all of the new track and world records' that have been set at Santa Anita on the laughably named 'Cushion Track' should be labeled with an asterisk, and/or completely disregarded for a set of new track records yet to be set when the Pro-Ride-Cushion Track mixture comes into play, we think, sometime soon. What do you think about these records and how would you handle them if you were running Santa Anita, or posing as an arbitrator of track and world records for the American Racing Manual and other statistical reference works?

I don't think "completely disregarding" what's happened on (No-)Cushion Track is an intellectually viable option. It happened. There are stories of unusual weather or maintenance issues that could be cited in connection with plenty of other track records. (As I noted in a recent column, Download 020208column.doc
the track surface at Turf Paradise was actually faster when G Malleah set the previous 6f world record than when Bob Black Jack broke it at Santa Anita Jan. 26.) The best solution in this case is probably for Santa Anita and the ARM to list both dirt and Cushion Track track records, and the fastest time regardless of surface as world records.