11/27/2012 3:37PM

Slow KJC, Fast Remsen

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There has been a lot of buzz about how slow last Saturday’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes was, and for good reason.

The Beyer Figure for the KJC, which sometime before Tuesday morning was bumped to 76 from a preliminary 75, meant that three of the first four finishers in the race all sustained substantial Beyer drop offs. Uncaptured, who prevailed by a neck over Frac Daddy, fell off anywhere from 12 to 20 Beyer points from four of the five Beyers he earned prior to the KJC. Frac Daddy, whose Beyer in his maiden romp earlier in the month was nudged up after the KJC to 91 from 90 (as was Uncaptured’s win in the Iroquois in his previous start), fell off 15 Beyer points. And fourth-place finisher Tesseron, who earned Beyers of 83 and 84 in his first two career starts, dropped to a 72 in the KJC.

What’s weird about this is it is all so counter-intuitive. You can always understand when one horse takes a big step back speed figure-wise because individual horses suddenly go out of form all the time. But for three of the first four finishers to all have their Beyer bottoms drop out, especially when all ran well from a visual sense, is just very strange.

Pace, which is one of the first places figure makers look when final times don’t play well together (this happens all the time in turf races; I know a little something about this. I have made my own figs since the mid 1970’s), isn’t a factor here. The pace in the KJC was only slightly slower than the two other two turn races on the card, nowhere near enough to make the sort of meaningful impact on the final time that would have to be at work here.

A change in the relative speed of racing surface would be another likely culprit, but that doesn’t seem to be in play, either. There was no “weather” at Churchill on Saturday, and the main track there isn’t like Big Sandy at Belmont Park, which dramatically speeds up, or slows down, depending on how heavily it is, or isn’t, watered. The Golden Rod was run one hour before the KJC, and the final figure of that race borne from a final time that was two one-hundredths of a second faster than the KJC, seems totally logical. Although the final time and figure of the KJC are not logical when compared to the day’s other routes, it just seems implausible that the speed of the track could have changed that much in the hour between the Golden Rod and the KJC, particularly when there was no apparent reason for it to have changed.

One of the interesting things about this KJC mystery is that it has deflected attention from how fast the Remsen, run earlier Saturday at Aqueduct, came up. In fact, a skeptic would say that the Remsen came up as suspiciously fast as the KJC did slow.

On a dry afternoon in Queens on a track that showed zero signs of speeding up (or slowing down) during the day, and after an early pace that was comparable to the other two two-turn races on the card (the Gazelle and Demoiselle), the Remsen was completed in a time that translated to a 99 Beyer Figure.

To anyone who watched this Remsen, that big a figure was also counter-intuitive. Overanalyze, who was put to a drive with three-eighths to go, somehow prevailed by a nose in blue collar, grind-it-out fashion. Runner up Normandy Invasion looked like he was a mortal lock in the stretch after making a big run from off the pace, but he appeared to hang. And close third-place finisher Delhomme just wasn’t good enough after setting a pace that did not appear to be demanding.

Visually, this Remsen didn’t look anything like the breakthrough race the final time says it was. Yet Overanalyze’s 99 Beyer was 14 points higher than his previous career top over four prior starts (and, notably, 23 points higher than what he earned in his distant third behind Uncaptured in the Iroquois), Normandy Invasion’s 99 Beyer was 18 points higher than his lengthy maiden romp earlier in the month, and Delhomme’s 98 Beyer was four points higher than his impressive maiden victory in his last start.

What’s funny here is that most of us will find the suspiciously high Remsen Beyer easier to accept than the suspiciously low KJC Beyer. That is because we are talking about 2-year-olds, and because there was a near 17 length gap in the Remsen between Delhomme, and the fourth place finisher. But those two points fail to take into account that there was precious little behind the top three in the Remsen, and that just because young horses have a license to dramatically improve from one race to the next, it doesn’t automatically mean they will.

In any case, these two stakes will require extra scrutiny next year. It could turn out that the truth about the suspiciously slow KJC and suspiciously fast Remsen will be found somewhere in the middle.

jttf More than 1 year ago
it is not unusual for 2 year olds to run unconsistant beyers. the breeders cup juvenile winner, shanghai bobby went from a 94 to an 82 in the juvy. once again, repole/pletcher horses run much better in new york. all three of repole's horses ran their best career beyer that day, which included stay thirsty. why does the nyra give pletcher an advantage ?
russell More than 1 year ago
I look at Beyer figs the same way I do as morning workout times. I'm looking for consistency not a spectacular number. Too often people are looking for that horse that dramatically improved or freaked. Rarely does that happen.
alan levy More than 1 year ago
reason Beyer fig's are for LOSERS
jttf More than 1 year ago
99 % of the people who wager on horse racing are losers. cant beat 20 % takeout.
Don Passidomo More than 1 year ago
MW: Thanks for writing about these 2 races, valid observations..I was hoping KJC would display a big star, not so, a dud, most impressive was #3 Fear the Kitten, will be watching, intersting that Overanalyze ran at CD previous race, want to look at those figures, but of all Saturday I liked Normandy Invasion, liked his move and was just beaten by a better Jockey, not horse. Both races produced expected outcomes, a betting downer.
Mine thatbird More than 1 year ago
I looked at the KJC card and came to the same conclusions as Mike for the most part and though I don't always agree with Beyer I think he got the KJC right. I don't rely on Beyers for caping but a 15+ point difference between horses is usually indicative that one horse is much better. Furthermore, the Bris figs basically say the same thing. I thought the pace in the KJC was slower than what Mike did, they were really bunched up, but unfortunately the race also ended very slow. Also, the races before and after the KJC doesn't support the conclusion that the track changed that much. Like Mike I am suspicious of such a steep regression among the top finishers coupled with the fact that the KJC winner beat the Remsen winner last out. I am okay with Overanalyze progressing past Uncaptured, that happens but it doesn't sit right that a horse could regress so much and win. Importantly, it is too early on the Derby trail to worry about the implications of these races. They are like the cocktail your having while waiting for your table to get ready. Sure they are enjoyable but appetizers haven't been served yet and your not even sure what is on the menu for the main course. Fortunately, the KJC results will make for interesting betting next race out. Good Luck!
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
Beyer Figs at first glance can be very deceptive. Used in the right way, they can be pure gold. When one takes into account the projected pace of a race and compares that projection to a horses previous Beyer Fig when running into the projected pace, then you have a money making number. To simply say that a horse runs 83 most of the time is no more logic than saying he had the same jockey every time. How did that horse do when pressed or allowed to clear r had a fast pace to run at. THAT is how Beyer Figs are intented to be used.
Mike More than 1 year ago
If all these Figs are pure gold I wouldn't be telling anybody about it. I'd be making BILLION$$$ betting races.....and keeping a low profile.... when somebody brags about making $$ about a product they sell to the public.....I laugh out loud like this...BWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA but we know it's fools gold.
MICHAEL More than 1 year ago
Beyer, BHA, Timeform.....etc etc....they sell this stuff to make $......so it should NOT be taken seriously.....
BrandonLayer More than 1 year ago
I don't see Uncaptured or Overalalyze winning the Derby. The other horses from the KYJC and Remsen will improve more and move past them.
Ponies Payme More than 1 year ago
Yes, looking ahead 6 months, one can surely make a statement like that.
Albert More than 1 year ago
When was the last time that Andy Beyer selected the Derby winner? 1875?
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
The Beyer Figs are what they are. You have 2 different tracks run at 2 different distances. The KJC was ridiculously slow, in a tick under 1:45 for 8 1/2 F. It received the correct Beyer Fig. Now, it's up to you to decide if the horses will do better next time out. I think 2 yr. olds going 9F is a better indicator anyway. The Beyer Fig. substantiates it. The KJC would have been more to the tune of 1:53.0 as compared to the Remsen at 150.0. Andy got it right as he almost always does. They are what they are.
Curtis V Slewster More than 1 year ago
Is that you Bernie ? How many henchmen to you use ?