06/16/2010 12:00AM

Beyer Figs don't tell the whole story


PHILADELPHIA - I was watching the race on television and, for the second time in Zenyatta's amazing career, said aloud "she is not going to get there." Why don't I get it? She always gets there.

The Beyer Speed Figures explain most everything to me about the game. They cannot explain Zenyatta. Nothing really can. She just passes all the horses.

It was hard to tell on the video exactly when Zenyatta was at the eighth pole in the Vanity, but if I hit my stopwatch at the right instant, she ran her final eighth in 11.5 seconds. Can a horse run any faster? Well, I am convinced Zenyatta can. I really believe if she had needed to run the final 220 yards in 11 seconds to catch St Trinians, she would have done it.

I have been trying to come up with some historical comparison to what Zenyatta has done and is doing. And I can't.

The 17 for 17 sort of speaks for itself. But it's how she does it that is so fascinating. American racehorses don't win that way anywhere but the movies. Zenyatta does it every race, last to first.

For the record, Zenyatta got a 103 Beyer. The number, and this is from somebody who loves and lives the numbers, is irrelevant.

The Beyers very nicely explain Rachel Alexandra. She is back.

Forget her margin in the Fleur De Lis. Or the field she beat. She got a 108 Beyer, the same number she got last year in the Kentucky Oaks and Preakness. It was not the 116 she got in the Haskell, but it was as good a numerical performance as it seemed to be visually.

When Calvin Borel asked the 2009 Horse of the Year to quicken at the head of the stretch, she took off like the race had just begun. That was the Rachel that was so dominant last year.

She ran her 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.78. Blame, a terrific horse, ran the same distance two hours later in 1:49.37 in winning the Stephen Foster.

The pace scenario was different in the two races, but, with the Zenyatta exception, the Beyers assess performances regardless of pace. Rachel ran six Beyer points faster than Blame, a horse that has won 7 of 10 and never been worse than third. Rachel ran big. She is going to be very difficult to beat from here to the end of the year. What she did last year was not fiction. It really happened. She was voted Horse of the Year on the merits.

I know I am dreaming here, but it is actually possible that on the first Saturday of November at Churchill Downs at the Kentucky Derby distance, we could have a field with Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road, Blame, and Rail Trip.

Who would you like?

Quality Road's last two Beyers were 112 and 121. Rail Trip got a 108 in the Californian and a 111 when he won the Hollywood Gold Cup last year. Blame has six consecutive triple-digit Beyers, including a 108 when he was second in the 2009 Super Derby.

Even when Rachel was losing her first two races of 2010, she wasn't running slowly. She just happened to run into a pair of horses that had career performances. Zardana got the only triple-digit Beyer (101) of her career when she beat Rachel. It took so much out of her that she has not been close in her next two races, with Beyers of 80 and 94 when she was a distant third in the Vanity. Unrivaled Belle got the first triple-digit Beyer (103) of her career when she beat Rachel. In her next race, she could not run down pacesetting Life At Ten in the Phipps and finished second with a Beyer of 94.

Macho Again was becoming a pretty consistent horse until he tried and failed to catch Rachel in 2009 Woodward. The horse had won the Stephen Foster and reeled off Beyers of 100, 105, and 109 in the Woodward. Since that race, Macho Again has not been close and was far back in the 2010 Foster.

Rachel and Zenyatta don't just give amazing performances. They take the hearts of the horses that try them.

Rachel is one of the most consistent Beyer performers in years. She got her first triple-digit Beyer on Feb. 15, 2009. Her next 10 races have all resulted in triple-digit Beyers. Like Zenyatta, she brings it every time.

The Beyers give Zenyatta no love. Her last six races resulted in three Beyers of less than 100. Part of that is the synthetic issue. The other is the style of running. Zenyatta simply can't be judged by time. She really is that horse of lore that just runs fast enough to win.

Imagine the 2010 Classic with Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, Quality Road, Rail Trip, Blame, and whatever sacrificial graduates from the Triple Crown are around in November. There would be all those horses with the great Beyers and Zenyatta.

The pace would be hot and probably contested. There would be no breathers. The speed horses would get first run. The closers would be coming hard at a distance you have to think is probably Zenyatta's best. If, in fact, the great mare is always going to pass all the horses in front of her, that would be the day she would run a Beyer that might explain her greatness in a number, not that she needs any explanations for what she has done and may yet do.