02/12/2014 11:52AM

Dick Jerardi: Revolutionary's Beyer Speed Figure revisited

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Tom Keyser
Revolutionary originally was given a Beyer Speed Figure of 93 for this Jan. 11 allowance win, but it was changed to a 103.

The time for the second race on Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park did not seem to fit in with the times on the rest of that card. If the one-mile time of 1:35.07 for Revolutionary’s win that day had been taken at face value, the horse would have earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

That was certainly within Revolutionary’s scope, as the horse had gotten a 102 when he won his maiden in 2012 and a 99 when third in the Kentucky Derby. The confusion came from the second and third finishers behind Revolutionary. Runner-up Falling Sky’s best Beyer was in the 2013 Sam Davis when he got a 92. Viramundo’s best was a 75 when third in an optional claimer Dec. 27.

If Revolutionary had been assigned the 103 the time suggested he should get, Falling Sky would have gotten a 102, 10 points higher than his career best, and Viramundo a 100, 25 points better than his best.

Knowing that the one-mile races out of the Gulfstream chute had regularly produced times that they deemed questionable, Andrew Beyer and Mark Hopkins decided to assign a 93 to the race.

Turned out that was not the right decision. Falling Sky proved it when he came back last Saturday to win the Gulfstream Park Sprint by 5 1/2 lengths and earn a no-doubt-about-it 104. The Beyer for the Jan. 11 race was immediately changed to 103.

Revolutionary and Viramundo were entered in the Donn Handicap the next day with the wrong figure in DRF’s print edition. It was changed online.

“We review and adjust our figures as a regular part of our process, but this was such a conspicuous high-profile case of doing so that I want people to understand what we did and why we did it,” Beyer said.

Well, Revolutionary ran terribly in the Donn, finishing seventh, beaten by nearly 20 lengths and earning an 82 Beyer. But Viramundo ran a decent third, 10 3/4 lengths behind winner Lea, who earned a sensational 114 Beyer. Viramundo got a 96 Beyer, giving further confirmation that the revised figure was correct.

The Beyer Speed Figures are based on sound mathematical principles, but there are times that just don’t make any sense and we have to consider that either the posted time was wrong, something happened to affect one race or perhaps a series of races on a card, or any of a number of other possibilities.

We try very hard not to get beyond the math unless we feel there is an overwhelming reason to do it. We thought this was such an occasion. We were wrong.

None of us was wrong about that crazy 2013 Derby pace. As I wrote a while ago, that race deserves a separate chapter in any future book about the effects of pace.

Palace Malice, who set the pace, won the Belmont Stakes and Jim Dandy. Goldencents, second early, was second in two Grade 1 sprint stakes and a Grade 2 before winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Falling Sky, third early, did not run again until November and just ran the race of his life in a Grade 3 sprint.

Verrazano, fourth early, won the Pegasus and the Haskell. Oxbow, who was sixth early and made a big move into the hot pace, won the Preakness. Vyjack, who was fifth chasing the pace, is the only horse in the group that has not won a subsequent stakes. He was eighth, beaten by 10 lengths in the Belmont, and sixth, beaten by nearly 20 lengths in the Haskell.

In the Derby, those six finished sixth (Oxbow), 12th (Palace Malice), 14th (Verrazano), 17th (Goldencents), 18th (Vyjack), and 19th (Falling Sky).

Meanwhile, the first five Derby finishers, Orb, Golden Soul, Revolutionary, Normandy Invasion, and Mylute, are a combined 1 for 13, with Revolutionary accounting for that lone win in the race that was the main topic of this Beyer Speed Figure/pace treatise.

Orb, of course, ran some decent races after the Derby, but never reproduced that Derby effort. Golden Soul was never close again. Normandy Invasion has not run. Mylute was third in the Preakness, but that was it.

Pace clearly affects final times. So do myriad other factors. The bottom line is that almost all of the races produce times that make sense in relation to the other times on a card and are not likely to be an aberration. Even those of us here at Beyer Headquarters, who are trying to put all the puzzle pieces together, have to re-learn that from time to time.