Updated on 09/17/2011 11:52PM

Converting Timeform ratings to Beyers

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NEW YORK - The problems that arise when handicapping foreign imports through the conventional wisdom of subtracting 12, 13, or 14 from a Timeform rating in order to get a Beyer Speed Figure, detailed in this space a few weeks ago, have been addressed by Timeform's international handicapper, Chris Williams.

Williams, who is in charge of Timeform's foreign department, has worked out formulas for horses of different ages and sexes at different times of the year that can serve as a guide in determining a Timeform rating relationship to Beyer Speed Figures. (See chart) It should be noted, however, that these formulas are offered merely as a guide, albeit an informed one at that.

Williams writes from Timeform's headquarters in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England: "Because Beyer figures do not have weight-for-age incorporated into them, the conversion rate needs to be applied on a sliding scale, depending on the age of the horse."

Williams notes that "this scale is only for the top horses. The conversion for horses rated less than 100 should be applied on another sliding scale, as Timeform's ratings are more spread out for the lower-rated horses."

While this scale should prove helpful, I would once again like to remind one and all that horses have no concept of their ratings either in Europe or America, and that they do not run against numbers, but against other horses. Proceed at your own risk.

Did lack of drugs hurt Americans?

The embarrassing performances of the four American-trained horses in the Grade 1 Japan Cup and the Japan Cup Dirt last weekend cannot be excused by the long trek required to get to Tokyo from New York or Los Angeles. In this day and age, any trainer who sends a horse to run in a foreign country must have an understanding of the problems of sending a horse to run in a race that will be held farther from his stall than the short walk usually required to get a horse from the backstretch to the paddock.

It may well be that Better Talk Now and King's Drama were simply not good enough to cope with the likes of Alkaased, Heart's Cry, and Zenno Rob Roy in the Japan Cup, or that Lava Man and Tap Day were not up to the level required by the three who produced a blanket finish in the Japan Cup Dirt, Kane Hekili, Seeking the Dia, and Star King Man. On the face of it, that appears to be the case, and if that is so, the quality of the game in the United States may be considerably lower than even the pessimists perceive it to be. There is, however, a common denominator all four of the woeful Americans shared in Japan, one that only exacerbated the problems they were facing in taking on some of the world's better horses.

In finishing 16 1/4 lengths and 21 1/2 lengths behind Kane Hekili in the Dirt, Lava Man and Tap Day were running without their usual doses of Lasix. What's more, Lava Man was not entitled to his raceday injection of Butazolidin, one to which he had become accustomed every time he ran in California.

The same is true of Better Talk Now and King's Drama in the Japan Cup. They finished eight and 17 1/2 lengths behind Alkaased in that 1 1/2-mile contest while running without the benefit of Lasix.

The form of all four Americans in Japan was considerably below that which they had been producing with consistency at home in the States. Their poor efforts had at least as much to do with the absence of raceday medication as it did with travel fatigue or a bad day at the races.

The long journey certainly didn't bother Alkaased, who traveled to Japan from England just weeks after a fruitless round-trip transatlantic journey for the Breeders' Cup Turf.

If the American problems stemmed from a lack of drugs, do not expect our three representatives in Sha Tin on Dec. 11 to fare any better. Nicole's Dream in the Hong Kong Sprint will be denied the Lasix with which she has run in all but two of her 42 starts. In the Hong Kong Cup, Willow O Wisp cannot use either the Lasix or Bute with which he has run in his last five outings. And in the Hong Kong Mile, Designed for Luck will be without the help of the Lasix and Bute with which he has performed in all but one of his 27 career starts.

As a result, all three of them look like throw-outs at Sha Tin.

Timeform explained

TYPE OF HORSEFORMULA
* 2-year-old colts late in season -22
* 2-year-old fillies late in season -24
* 3-year-old colts early in season -15
* 3-year-old fillies early in season -21
* Older horses on dirt -10
* Older fillies on dirt -14
* Older horses & fillies on turf -14