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Dick Jerardi: Beyer Figures not always based just on final time
Making Beyer Speed Figures is an art/science based on mathematics. That was never more obvious than last Saturday at Fair Grounds when Randy Moss, one of the original fig makers on the Beyer team, was confronted with data that was, at first glance, confusing.
The Mineshaft Handicap, Rachel Alexandra Stakes, and Risen Star were all run at 1 1/16 miles. Exactly 64 minutes separated the off times from the first of those races to the third. Once Randy looked at the entire card, it was clear that the variant was -12 Beyer points or 1.3 seconds at the distance. That means to assess the performance of each horse, 1.3 seconds or 12 points had to be subtracted from the times/raw figures of each race to account for the relative speed of the surface on the day.
The Rachel Alexandra’s time of 1:45.38 equated to a raw figure of 98. Thus, the actual Beyer assigned to the race is 86.
The Risen Star went in 1:44.52, a raw figure of 107. The Beyer is 95.
The Mineshaft’s time was 1:44.82, a raw figure of 104. The assigned figure is 97.
So, how does the slower race at the same distance on the same track run an hour apart get a better Beyer? That is where art, common sense, and pace are factored into the math.
The Risen Star fractions were 23:92 seconds, 48.32, and 1:12.74. In the Mineshaft, it was 25.30, 49.64, and 1:14.80. When Mineshaft winner Mark Valeski finished second in the Louisiana Handicap, he got a 101 Beyer. In 2012, he got a 96 when winning the Peter Pan and a 98 when second in the Risen Star. If Randy had just gone by the final time, Mark Valeski’s Mineshaft would have gotten a 92 Beyer. That simply did not make sense. The pace clearly had affected the final time.
“The Mineshaft’s first six furlongs in 1:14.80 was slightly more than two full seconds slower than the pace of the Risen Star just an hour later, and making up such a big difference in the final 2 1/2 furlongs is highly unlikely,’’ Moss said. “As a result, we felt justified to give the race a slight bump in Beyer Speed Figures, which we believe makes it a more accurate reflection of how Mark Valeski and the horses behind him actually performed. We make every effort to let final times speak for themselves, but in this case, the slow fractions spoke even more loudly.’’
The time is the time, expect in rare cases like this where Randy “projected’’ the Mineshaft number. He made a note of it in our data base and will go back and check once some of the horses run back.
We obviously don’t want to give the slower time on the same day a better figure because it simply does not make mathematical sense, but there are a few exceptions (surface speed changes during the day/slow pace) where it actually does make sense.
Mark Hopkins, who does the Gulfstream Park figures, did not have that issue for the Fountain of Youth, which was run an hour after the Davona Dale, with each race at 1 1/16 miles. The Fountain of Youth was .06 of a second faster than the Davona Dale. There no false pace in either race. The variant was -23 or 2.4 seconds at the distance. The Fountain of Youth raw figure was 120, the Davona Dale 119. The actual Beyers were 97 and 96. Easy.
Bridge jumper at Beulah gets burned
A friend called me Monday afternoon and said I had to check the past performances and result of the first at Beulah Park. The lines revealed a six-horse field of maiden-claiming Ohio-breds going 5 1/2 furlongs. Three of the horses were so slow that none had gotten a Beyer above 0. A fourth had one 4 Beyer and five 0 Beyers in six starts. There was a 5-year-old first time starter by a $1,500 sire, a son of Secretariat by the timely name of Academy Award. And Paige’s Prize, who had run 18 times without winning, but really looked like he could not lose. He had four Beyers of 20 or better in his previous six races. Really, what more could you want?
Paige’s Prize went off at 2-5, cleared the field after 100 yards or so and won by 12 1/2 lengths. There was a stewards’ inquiry because the rail horse was in tight on the backstretch and the jockey lost his irons before finishing last. There was also nearly $29,000 out of a bit more than $30,000 bet to show on Paige’s Prize.
I saw the race like the chartcaller: “Paige’s Prize quickly to the front, set all the pace while unchallenged throughout while tons the best. . . . High Award took a bad step from inside while in tight with the rider losing his irons to the eighth pole.’’
Paige’s Prize did come over and get close to Personality Plus, who was close to High Award. If there was contact between Paige’s Prize and Personality Plus, I did not see it on the head on replay.
The stewards placed Paige’s Prize last behind High Award. What I imagine was a $25,000 show bet by one player was then distributed to some very surprised players who got as lucky as the big bettor was unlucky. “Winner’’ Petes Blue Diamond, 9-1, paid $41.20 to show. Personality Plus, second at 17-1, paid $62.60. The aptly named World Chaos paid $72.60.
And I wondered again about racing gods, bridge jumpers, and the arbitrary nature that is stewards changing results after the fact.
The Beyer method is hopelessly flawed. Even in 1988 I found a flaw in his route-sprint calculations where he said to compare averages at multiple classes, even though one could lump all claimers into one group via his universal pars (converting each claimer to 50k by adding points to the lower-class races, for two large samples rather than fifteen small ones). The DRF makes the money informing all of you, so I have no reason to educate you on why the Beyer method has flaws that go way beyond pace. Just keep using these numbers, and pretending there aren't better ones out there. The only reason I'd ever publish my findings is to destroy the ROI of professionals and make it more difficult for them to win.
Well, for what it's worth, I'm the guy who lost $10,435 on that Beulah race, $10,300 of it bet to show. I'm still trying hard to figure out what Paige's Prize did that was so horrible. A number of thoughts come into my head: Personality Plus may well have been exactly where he was even if Paige's Prize was never in the race! Front-running horses from the outside invariably head over to the rail to avoid going wide on the turn. Paige's Prize never touched Personality Plus, beyond perhaps a slight brush earlier, and I don't think even that occurred.. From what I recall, neither of the jockeys aboard Personality Plus or High Award lodged a "jockey objection" against Paige's Prize. High Award's primary trouble stemmed from taking "a bad step" A head on shot just before High Award's trouble does show all 3 horse's running straight. If Beulah's going to be disqualifying horses for things like this, then they're going to be disqualifying horses left and right. Yet somehow I doubt that will occur.
In fact, shouldn't you give Cool Street an even higher figure than Mark Valeski, since he had to close into that slow pace?
Like many other commentators, I have a major problem with the DRF factoring pace into its figures. My understanding was always that Beyer figures simply present a rating of how fast (relative to track condition) the horses ran. Thus, unlike subjective rating systems, like Ragozin, etc. (which I don't like), I as a handicapper am able to analyze based on trip, how many points better or worse it will run with the predicted trip next time. Factoring pace into your figures makes doing so completely impossible, and makes the Beyers less complete Rag numbers. If you're going to factor in pace, why now incorporate ground loss as well. I think someone like Andy Beyer better address this situation immediately, or you're going to lose a lot of customers.
The problem with that method is that it assumes that a slow pace impacted all horses in the race equally, which is obviously nonsensical.
Lets not ignore the value it serves as a marketing tool. It gives newbies something they can immediately understand, which it good. Then they can spend the next 20 yrs figuring out the rest of the game.
Dick's explanation isn't hard to understand. It's just a question of whether he is right, which he is not. Changing the figure because the track slows down might be right. Changing it because the pace was slow within the race is not right. That is how fast they ran, and if you're going to change it because of the pace and make a hypothetical prediction of what the horses would have done with a faster pace, you have to think about every single horse in every race and change the Beyer according to how the pace affected them, whether the pace was too slow or too fast. Essentially, you are paying $3 for someone else's opinion if DRF is not giving us the true data. Why would anyone pay for false information?
Dick - thank you for a great explanation of projected figures. Anyone who cannot understand it must be an idiot.
Beyer numbers suck, who cares!
There should not be parimutual betting alllowed at Beaulah Park .the jockey gets almost the same money as winning and losing which leads to massive corruption,ive never seen a racetrack with more corruption than BP.