09/24/2003 12:00AM

Candy Ride: Just call him Mr. 123

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PHILADELPHIA - Without getting into the decision, we here at Beyer Control are saddened by the end of Candy Ride's season. When you compute thousands of Beyer figures each year, you get a certain tingle when a horse hits the high end of the scale. And you want see that horse run again and again and again.

Candy Ride earned a 123 in the Pacific Classic. The key word is "earned." It is the best Beyer of 2003 at any distance on any surface. And it is, despite what those who are not of the Beyer world may suggest, completely legitimate.

There was some discussion about the legitimacy of the 110 that Ten Most Wanted earned in the Illinois Derby back in the spring. That discussion ended long ago.

"People always have the right to say, is this figure accurate, because there are a lot of cases where we are not sure,'' Andrew Beyer said. "You've got to look at the whole picture instead of just a pre-conceived notion about one horse.''

And that, frankly, is where many people, with just a rudimentary understanding of how Beyers are made, go off on the wrong path.

The Pacific Classic was run at 1 1/4 miles, hardly everyday fare at Del Mar or anywhere else.

"Seldom-run distances do create a problem,'' Beyer admitted.

It was, however, just one race among eight dirt races on Aug. 24. And it was scrutinized in the context of all those other races. It was not just judged by itself.

We make a day's variant based on all the day's races. Then, and only then, do we decide how fast or slow the surface that day was. After looking at all the data on Pacific Classic Day, the surface was judged to be 19 Beyer points faster than normal. Thus, 19 Beyer points were subtracted from all the raw times.

Master Perfect won the first race. His previous three Beyers were 78-76-74. He got a 76. He won his next race and got a 79.

Minister Eric won the second race and got an 84. He got an 81 in his next start. Odds On was second with an 81. He won his next start with an 86.

Boss Ego was second by a nose in the eighth race. He got a 91. He won his next start with another 91.

All days should fit so nicely. The variant seemed obvious when it was made. What has happened since has only confirmed the obvious.

As for the Pacific Classic itself, the time alone suggested something special. All of us know that 1:59.11 is serious business. The margins told the rest of the story.

Candy Ride beat Medaglia d'Oro by 3 1/4 lengths. Medaglia's last five Beyers were 114-111-119-103-113. Clearly, the horse was capable of earning the 118 he got in the Pacific Classic. If he was really off his best form, as some may suggest, why did he beat third-place Fleetstreet Dancer by seven lengths?

Fleetstreet Dancer's last five Beyers were 104-98-106-110-105. Obviously, that was a horse who could run a 108. And that's what he got in the Pacific Classic.

Milwaukee Brew, who was fourth, got a 103 in his comeback race at Monmouth Park. He got a 104 at Del Mar.

Which leaves only one obvious question. How did Candy Ride go from a 111 on dirt and 107 on grass to a 123?

That is the part of the equation that those of us at Beyer Control can't answer. All we can do is look at the data and try to interpret it impartially.

In this case, the data was unequivocal. Candy Ride is a freak. Was it just one freak performance? Or was this horse about to enter that rare Beyer dimension and stay there?

That, too, is something we can't answer - yet. But we will be waiting eagerly for 2004 and the return of Candy Ride, known forevermore as 123.