02/27/2013 2:13PM

Dick Jerardi: Beyer Figures not always based just on final time

Lynn Roberts/Hodges Photography
Although Mark Valeski ran a bit slower than Struck a Nerve, the winner of the Risen Star Stakes, he was awarded a slightly higher Beyer Speed Figure of 97.

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.