08/17/2003 11:00PM

DQ the right call in Million


NEW YORK - Notes from a wild weekend:

Anyone who booed the disqualification of Storming Home in Saturday's Arlington Million only succeeded in displaying their ignorance.

The issue here is not if Storming Home would have won the Million whether or not he ducked out sharply mere yards from the wire. He obviously would have. But, Storming Home's misbehavior, even happening as late in the Million as it did, absolutely affected the order of finish. And when a horse commits a foul that affects the order of finish, the horse must be disqualified. There is no debate on this. Anything less, and there will be complete chaos in between the white rails.

If you closely watch a replay of the late stages of the Million, you will see that if Storming Home had kept a straight course, Paolini would have finished second, and Kaieteur and Sulamani would have been in a photo for third. I think Kaieteur would have been third, because up until things got tight, he was moving better than Sulamani.

Storming Home ducked out, forcing Paolini and Kaieteur to take up sharply, and bothering Sulamani less severely. So, instead of finishing second, Paolini had to share third in a dead heat with Kaieteur. And Kaieteur, who may have had third all to himself, instead also had to share third. The actions of Storming Home cost Paolini and Kaieteur better finishing positions, and by extension, cost their owners larger shares of the purse. For that reason, Storming Home had to come down. No ifs, ands, or buts.

On Saturday, Sulamani was the luckiest horse in the world. If Storming Home had kept a straight course late in the Million, Sulamani may have finished no better than fourth. Instead, he inherited second, which put him in the position of being the prime beneficiary when Storming Home was rightfully disqualified.

Maybe pace doesn't make turf race

If there was any doubt that turf races in the United States are being run in an opposite manner than dirt races, one need look no farther than Saturday's Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington. The early fractions were 25.04 seconds, 49.78, and 1:13.68. If the Beverly D. were a dirt race, the horse who set those fractions would be unbeatable if she had even just an ounce of quality. But on turf, pace hardly matters anymore. Sure enough, Heat Haze rallied from last into those fractions to win the Beverly D. decisively, and the reason why, besides being a very nice filly, is because Heat Haze has what has become the most important thing in American turf racing: an explosive kick that can be used at the finish.

In fact, the pace in turf races is making it increasingly difficult to make reliable speed figures for turf races. Many times, you will see the early pace of two turf races run on the same card differ by one or two seconds, because jockeys are constantly attempting to slow the pace down as much as they can to conserve their horses' kicks for the finish. When there is such a large difference in the early pace, it has a profound impact on final time. So, even though you may have two turf races run a half-hour apart at the same track, if the paces are significantly disparate, one race may as well have been run on Mars, and the other on Venus. These types of races are simply incomparable, and often, speed figure makers have no choice but to go with their best educated guess. Human speed figure makers, that is, and not the computer generated garbage that is also commercially available. The reason why computer generated figures are garbage is because the computer doesn't make such distinctions; it treats the two disparate races like they are comparable, and that results in two bad figures.

Triple Tiara safe, likely for a while

Spoken Fur finished third, beaten seven lengths by the perennially underrated Island Fashion in Saturday's Alabama Stakes at Saratoga, and that may be about as close as a filly will come to sweeping the New York Racing Association's revamped Triple Tiara for 3-year-old fillies so long as the distance of the second leg of this series, the Coaching Club American Oaks, remains at 1 1/2 miles.

Spoken Fur was very impressive romping in the new first leg of the Triple Tiara, the Mother Goose, but she visibly labored toward the end of the CCA Oaks, struggling through a final quarter mile in 27.33. Spoken Fur still won the CCA Oaks by daylight, which reflected very well on a filly who is essentially bred to be a miler. But, even though Spoken Fur had four weeks between the CCA Oaks and the Alabama, the new finale to the Triple Tiara, and even though she is backed by the Bobby Frankel juggernaut, the CCA Oaks had to take a lot out of her. Despite what the tote board said - Spoken Fur was 4-5 - it was no surprise that Spoken Fur was as empty as she was Saturday.

By the way, Fircroft, who finished second in the CCA Oaks, finished last in the Alabama, beaten just over 17 lengths.

The NYRA has attached a $2 million bonus to the Triple Tiara, which will go to any filly who can sweep it. Heck, if the NYRA keeps the CCA Oaks at 1 1/2 miles, it may as well make the bonus $20 million. It will be safe.