02/08/2010 4:51PM

Sizing up the Whirlaway


    Once odds-on Eightyfiveinafifty decided to test the speed limit on the outer rail of Aqueduct's clubhouse turn Saturday, the Whirlaway Stakes lost most of its appeal and relevance.

    The Beyer Speed Figure of 86 recorded by winner Peppi Knows won't land him on many Kentucky Derby Top Ten lists, but because the inner dirt was playing slowly, the race was stronger-paced than its fractions of :23.79, :48.66 and 1:14.74 would indicate. The Beyer corresponds to 88 on the Moss Pace Figure scale, and the pacefig line of 81-81-82 rates faster than the 1 1/16 par pacefigs of 72-79-85.  That's no surprise, since the four horses that finished the race had all previously shown speed.

    The primary Whirlaway points are these:  1) Three Day Rush was probably best, since he dashed out with and was bothered by Eightyfiveinafifty yet finished decently to be beaten less than a length, 2) the Whirlway horses could be useful but probably aren't mile-and-a-quarter material, and 3) the victory and Beyer figure by Peppi Knows flatters Remsen Stakes winner Buddy's Saint, whose unusually slow Remsen Beyer of 82 doesn't seem to do him justice. Of the four Remsen starters who have run back subsequently (Buddy's Saint hasn't), three of them increased their Beyers next time out by 14, 12 and 6 points.

    A Gulfstream one-mile first-level allowance for 3-year-olds on the Donn undercard isn't likely to have Derby relevance, either. Spectacular Bid runnerup Wildcat Frankie and Rick Dutrow'a newly-blinkered Bank the Eight carved out a swift 81-88-89 pace (compared to 75-81-83 par). They finished one-two but in a final fig of 85 (pacefig scale) and 80 (Beyer scale). Wildcat Frankie is almost certainly a one-turn specialist; Bank the Eight has pedigree and more upside than his 80 Beyer given the pace scenario Saturday, but in his most recent pre-blinkers start was beaten nine lengths by Eskendereya.