11/05/2014 12:07PM

Jerardi: Rain threw monkey wrench into Breeders' Cup Beyer figures

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Barbara D. Livingston
Texas Red earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for his win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile on Saturday at Santa Anita Park.

The obvious Beyer Speed Figure question from the Saturday Breeders’ Cup card was: How could Take Charge Brandi run 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.95 in the fourth race and Texas Red get the same distance in 1:41.91 in the eighth race, with the 2-year-old filly getting an 83 Beyer and the 2-year-old colt earning a 104?

The answer is that Friday night into early Saturday, the new Santa Anita dirt surface got rain for the first time. That rain apparently affected the surface, making it incredibly fast for Saturday’s first four races. After the Filly and Mare Turf on Saturday, the surface slowed dramatically to a variant essentially identical to Friday’s all-day variant.

The best way to understand the difference between early in the day Saturday and later is to compare the seven-furlong times in the second race, a $200,000 stakes for California-bred 2-year-olds, and the sixth race, the $920,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. The second race went in 1:21.70, and the sixth race in 1:21.92. There simply is no way on a track with a consistent all-day variant that the 2-year-old Acceptance could run faster than Judy the Beauty.

Thus, the split variants account for the speed of the racetrack changing. Andrew Beyer, who does the speed figures for the Southern California tracks, decided that the early dirt races had a variant of -46, and the later races had a -26, the surface slowing down by 20 Beyer points.

As sometimes happens, specific races still don’t make any sense if the larger variant is applied. The third race did not fit with the first, second, and fourth. If the variant had been applied, the winner would have gotten a 64 Beyer, which would have made no sense with the Beyer history of the top three finishers. So, that race was “projected” up to 78.

The other race that did not fit was the Classic. If the variant for the previous three dirt races had been applied, Bayern, Toast of New York, and California Chrome would have gotten 120 Beyer figures.

“The Classic came up very fast,” Beyer said. “If somebody had won it by 10, you could say, ‘Okay, they ran 120,’ but when you’ve got a three-horse photo finish, a stratospheric number with everybody improving so radically seemed completely implausible.”

The Classic figure was “projected” down to a 113.

Are we at Beyer Central happy about all this? No.

We would much prefer science over art, math over mind. Sometimes, we just have to make sense of what makes no sense.

It would be much simpler if every day were like Friday at Santa Anita, where the variant was a solid -25, and there was very little ambiguity about who did what or why.

“For much of the meet, the variant has been in the -30s,” Beyer said. “The track was pretty consistent on Friday, and then they got that rain, which wreaked havoc.”

Even with the variant chaos apparently caused by the rain, Beyer said he is “quite confident the numbers are right.”

The Friday track, Beyer said, was a “fair track.” In fact, horses were winning from everywhere.

The first three races Saturday were won by speed horses, but they all were logical winners, suggesting the results were much more about ability than any perceived bias. That the track was so fast led more than a few people to the conclusion that there was a speed bias.

Beyer wanted to make the point that you “can have biases on fast tracks, on slow tracks.”

Just about everybody jumped on the speed-bias bandwagon after the Juvenile Fillies. Really, there did not seem to be any other way to account for the 61-1 longshot Take Charge Brandi wiring the field.

I had a different take at the time, and now with a few days to think about it, I think I had it right. It had less to do with a bias and everything to do with the D. Wayne Lukas factor, the logic of illogic in which a filly with figures of 61, 58, 57, 66, and 60 and who had been showing early speed and collapsing at Saratoga, Churchill Downs, and Keeneland suddenly kept going all the way to the wire.

One could make the bias argument. I will stick with the Lukas argument and won’t be waiting for Take Charge Brandi’s next win. Top Decile and Wonder Gal, second and third behind Take Charge Brandi, ran wide and from far back while earning their typical figures in a race in which the top five finished within 1 1/2 lengths.

As for the Juvenile, a meltdown pace often contributes to a giant figure and a big winning margin. With all those horses dueling themselves into oblivion after fractions of 22.37 seconds, 45.66, and 1:10.17, it was no shock that a horse like Texas Red blew by them all and won by 6 1/2 lengths, improving his best Beyer by 11 points. If I were you, I would not line up at the future book to bet down on Texas Red. Circumstances worked for him Saturday. They could work against him next year.

Circumstance, weather, and track maintenance all affect final times. Our job is to make sense of those times in the context of the day they were earned. Sometimes, like Friday at Santa Anita, there is no confusion. Then, there are days like Saturday, when we have to determine what makes the most sense when the data are a bit contradictory.

John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
Reading between the lines would it be unfair to say that DRF writers get paid by the word ?
Steven More than 1 year ago
Don said ACCEPTANCE is "the one".
Hail No More than 1 year ago
You just made the case that these "numbers" are futile and useless.
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
Stopwatch and time, track condition, and distance is all you need to compare. Beyers are nothing but an indicator and as others say, don't transfer from track to track or even next day.
Larry More than 1 year ago
I stopped using Beyer's when handicapping years ago. I finally realized that they were one man's formula using variables that he decided on. I also realized that Beyers from one track do not transfer to another track Class,trainer and jockey stats,distance,breeding,and tack condition are more important than Beyer's.
Danielle Gershberg More than 1 year ago
maybe it was the "Victor argument", where he said he hit her once going into the stretch (you can see it in the video), she pinned her ears back and he knew if he hit her again she would stop running. maybe in those last races of hers that could be why she would just give up? could sound silly but maybe Victor just got her in one split second. obviously the following race, it wasn't just a speed bias when Judy the Beauty came OFF the pace. meanwhile, this didn't screw me up, i had this filly to win. Because of the Lukas argument too. ;)
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
there wasnt ny rain last year. the fillies run half a second faster and get 7 less beye points. the fillies ran faster the year before, also. sounds like you guys are biased against the girls. ou have totally overated the three year olds this year. concrete tracks create more injuries. both older dirt divisions had more injuries to its star than ever. if shared belief had a clean start, that would have made four three year olds with at least a 113 beyer. there has only been one three year old to run higher than a 105 beyer since the 2009 breeders cup classic (no steroids). too hard to believe with a kentucky derby group that mustered a new low. five three years olds get at least a 98 in the belmont. compare that to th last five years of belmonts. this years classic should have been a 105, the jockey club members ran poorly in the classic and grade 3 fayette. this years beyers were over rated and inconsistant.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
Hehehe . Very funny Jerardi :) LOL.
robert NEVEU More than 1 year ago
Speed figures are one thing,and they have their place, if you understand how they are arrived at, however when they start projecting figures with comments like so and so usually runs this fast so that means so and so had to have run this fast it is IMO pure gobblygook. When I read closer look comments which I absolutely hate, but sometimes can't stop myself from looking at them because they shove them down your throat by placing them directly under the past performance lines, where they DO NOT BELONG. Anyway the writer will say stuff like the horse that ran second in this horses last race came back in it's next start to run such and such a beyer speed figure. I have to laugh because it really is comparing apples to oranges. Sorry but I do not need drf writers help to handicap a race. keep the opinions separate from the pp's which are facts. thank you
Jonathan More than 1 year ago
So, what exactly is the "Lukas argument"?