11/18/2015 3:36PM

Jerardi: A mortal Beyer lock pays off at 110-1

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It was the ninth race at Mahoning Valley on Nov. 4, the betting opportunity of the 21st century, a maiden filly with an overwhelming Beyer Speed Figure edge going off at 110-1. As Andrew Beyer wrote me a few days after the race, “Under the circumstances, 110 to 1 was a bit of an overlay.”

In fact, the 110-1 shot entered the starting gate in the six-furlong, $5,000 maiden-claiming race for fillies and mares with recent Beyers of 51, 42, 42, 43, and 40. The longshot was in against a rather suspect field that included 11 other horses with a combined record of 0 for 115 and no Beyer figure as high as 40 in any of those races. In fact, seven of the entrants had a last-race Beyer of 0, while the other four got figures of 23, 20, 16, and 12.

So, what did the bettors miss? The same thing that was missed from the barn to the starting gate, as it turned out. The No. 1 horse, the 110-1 shot, was supposed to be Ruby Queen, a 3-year-old filly who had a career-best Beyer of 20 but had gotten a 0 in four of her previous five starts, with a 9 in her other race. She had been beaten by a combined 168 lengths in the 12 races that appeared in her past performances. She had no early speed, she was not getting Lasix for the first time, there was no new equipment, and she did not have a recent trainer change. She also was not in the starting gate.

It turned out that her stablemate, a 4-year-old gelding named Leathers Slappin, was in the starting gate that afternoon against those female maidens. In this spot, the winner of two lifetime races was American Pharoah against a field of $20,000 claimers, even though he was racing for the second time in 50 hours.

Both animals are owned and trained by Shane Spiess. The Ohio Racing Commission is investigating the incident. Whatever the conclusion, it is hard to imagine anything was done intentionally. If anyone knew Leathers Slappin was running as Ruby Queen, he/she would not have gone off at 110-1.

Proving once and for all that Beyer figures are the best evaluation tool ever invented, Leathers Slappin/Ruby Queen ran right to his/her figures, crushing the field by 7 3/4 lengths and paying a cool $222.40 to win, $79.40 to place, and $30.40 to show while triggering an exacta that paid $1,832.40 with a 20-1 shot second.

The real Leathers Slappin had run fifth in the fifth race Nov. 2 at Mahoning Valley. That was also at six furlongs but for $5,000 claimers who had never won three races. Leathers Slappin got a 40 Beyer that day.

With just those 50 hours between races and probably not a lot of training time, Leathers Slappin got a 46 in his blowout win, a six-point improvement, a clear indication that the horse had been getting too much time between races and just needed to be placed in the right spot.

And this race against maiden fillies was definitely the right spot, the kind of spot every trainer hopes to find but never does. Leathers Slappin was just 2 for 26 lifetime with $30,000 in career earnings, but four of the fillies he was in against had career earnings of $282, $500, $537, and $716.

You know how we all look back after the race to see what we missed? Imagine the puzzled looks after Ruby Queen/Leathers Slappin ran those six furlongs in a blazing 1:15.43 and, in the words of the chart caller, “had speed from the start inside, made the lead entering the turn, then widened the balance of the trip to win as much the best while under energetic handling.’’

The Florida-bred son of D’wildcat had been disguised, apparently unintentionally, as a Florida-bred daughter of Suave. Ruby Queen was every bit of 110-1. Leathers Slappin, in that maiden race, was 1-5. Beyer was absolutely right in his assessment of the final odds. Really, how often do you get 110-1 on a 1-5 shot?