04/16/2015 10:50AM

Jerardi: Shared Belief will need big Beyer to win at Charles Town

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Shared Belief earned a career-high 111 Beyer for his Santa Anita Derby win on March 7.

American Pharoah was everything we thought he was and more. Once you put a line through his disastrous debut, the almost-certain Kentucky Derby favorite is all triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures, culminating with a career-best 105 in his Arkansas Derby romp April 11.

I can hear everybody saying: “How fast would he have gone if Victor Espinoza had let him run?” There’s no way to know what might have happened, but I would be cautious. My experience is that horses under no pressure run a whole lot better than horses under pressure. That said, it is certainly going to be fun finding out just how good and how fast American Pharoah might be.

With the Derby preps over, this is certainly a calmer week, with the notable exception of America’s best horse leaving California for the first time to race in the Charles Town Classic on Saturday. The superstars are the horses who get beyond the 110 Beyer range. Shared Belief has now done it twice, including the 111 he got when winning the Santa Anita Handicap on March 7. The 4-year-old has now earned triple-digit Beyers in seven of his 11 lifetime starts.

So, what happens at Charles Town? I can’t quantify the third turn or the travel. Until proven otherwise, I suspect we will see the same horse we always see: versatile, tough, and really fast. No reason to think Shared Belief won’t hit 110 or more on the Beyer scale again. The reality is that he might have to get a number that high to win.

This is no walkover, with Moreno, always dangerous because of his early speed and multiple triple-digit Beyers; defending Charles Town Classic winner Imperative, who upset Game On Dude last year with a 107 Beyer; and General a Rod, fulfilling all the 3-year-old promise in a big way with that 104 in his first start for Todd Pletcher.

Like so many, I have loved Shared Belief since I saw him win the CashCall Futurity in late 2013. The 106 Beyer he got that day was the tip-off that he might be very special. That this is just race No. 12 for the 4-year-old, that he is a gelding, and that he is now starting to travel is great news. This is a horse who really should be winning major races for years. The Charles Town Classic is next.

I am particularly interested in Cross the Line, who will run in the Illinois Derby on Saturday. The colt had never been worse than third in five starts at Golden Gate Fields before chasing Dortmund to the stretch and finishing a well-beaten fifth in the Santa Anita Derby. Even though it was Cross the Line’s worst finish, it was easily his best race. In fact, the colt has the rare distinction of improving his speed figure in each of his six starts, going from 62 to 66, 70, 79, 82, and then 95 in the Santa Anita Derby, his first start on dirt.

Not that I need it, but I am looking for a bit more confirmation on Dortmund’s form, and I really would like to see if Cross the Line can improve his Beyer for a seventh straight time. If he does, he wins.

Whiskey Ticket got a 91 in his only start when winning his maiden a month ago at Santa Anita. And he should be prominent from the start of the Illinois Derby. The problem is that Lewys Vaporizer is also going to be prominent, coming out of a dominating sprint win in which he got a 90 Beyer in his first start as a gelding following a disastrous debut last May.

The Henry Clark at Pimlico on Saturday is the kind of handicapping puzzle you often see in mid-April – good grass horses coming off long layoffs, sprinters trying grass for the first time, horses coming from the warmth of the South as the weather finally breaks, and dirt horses entered by trainers hoping for rain.

I do not have the data to back this up, but my experience has always been that true grass horses more often run right to their best form off extended layoffs than dirt horses. Thus, I would point you toward the 8-year-old Roadhog, who is making his first start since running third in one of the Maryland Million races at Laurel Park last October. He ran in the Clark last year off a nearly identical layoff and finished second, losing by a head. His Beyer in November 2013 was 86; his Beyer in April 2014 was 89. Last October, he got a 90. On Saturday, I would expect something similar.

wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
Very strange how my earlier comments mysteriously disappeared
mike More than 1 year ago
Nothing strange about it. lol
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
This comment by Wayne is exactly CORRECT. Totally subjective waste of number.
Mark Garcia More than 1 year ago
Hey, this is not rocket science here. You guys see any $4000 claimers run 100+ beyer speed figure races?. How would you seperate the performance of a handicap horse vs. a claimer? I think the fiqures are one of many tools availabe the the handicapper use to make a well placed bet. If all you look at is the Beyers, you will most certainly will lose at the track. Personally, I like to handicap for pace first...I look at beyers too but I find with turf racing they trend to be more irrelevant. Thats my two cents
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Hi Mark, I gave your comment a thumbs up. Not because I agreed, but because I appreciate your well thought out reply. You ask, how would you separate the performance of a handicap horse vs. a claimer? So, I would say...it's easy. You separate the performance by seeing who the horse ran against. The reason why the number is horrible is because it's objective. Let's take a control look. Originally the number had to do with how fast a horse ran. But, we all know...and if you don't, you can research it. A horse in a 4k race could run the same time as a horse in a stakes race and we all know the number in the stakes race will be higher. Why? Well simple, because the stakes race is a tougher race. Except that number can only change when there is subjectivity added to it. Otherwise the 1:09 would stay the same number regardless of class. Now, do I think cheap horses that run fast are as good as the Stakes horses...of course not. But, that's my job to figure out if the horse can run with the others. Oh, fractions a horse can run, especially early in a race and pace is huge to know who the speed is and such. But, fact is the number we are talking about is subjective. It just is. I'm not saying you can't take someone's opinion on the race, and I have friends that do, but just know that number really is subjective. I'm not using the B word because if I do, they will not let my comment post. By the way, true story, I owned a horse named Canyons Wildcat years ago, you can look it up. Anyway, he tied the World Record in a 2,500 claimer at Yavapai Downs. Did I really think he could then run in the BC Sprint just because he was fast. Ha. Heck no, I knew he could run with 2,500 claimers and that's where we ran him. When he got claimed, the folks raised him too high, he tried to run with those up front and broke down. UGH. My point is even cheap horses can run fast. Numbers and final times don't mean squat. Now, IF the number was objective, like the clocking of the fractions, maybe I would look at it occasionally to add in the equation...but, because their subjectivity and "estimate" of the class of that race determines the number....well, I can do a better job.....and it really makes the number irrelevant...and yes...in MY opinion. Hope this made sense. Best of luck to you. I've seen you post before and I can tell you know what you are doing as regards to handicapping. Just giving my two cents. Thanks.
Bob Rose More than 1 year ago
I'll drink to that, guys! One need to go no further than seeing byers comments about the best mare I've had great pleasure watching in my 60 years on the racetrack, the one and only, ~~~ZENYATTA~~~.His idiotic comments about her abilities being limited to synthetic surfaces when in all fact she had even better action in her dirt efforts. What a loser peeps that rely on him for info...duh.
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
Ref. horses under no pressure running better, how many times have we seen the horse that throws the jockey early out run the field and "win" the race? Happened just last weekend in one race.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I believe that might have something to do with the 112 pound weight break.
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
There isnt any weight on the horses back...geez
Robynrokn More than 1 year ago
112 lbs. on a 1200 lb animal is like a fly on a frog's back. Go watch the high weight handicap at the A.
saratogajunkie More than 1 year ago
5 hr drive...man would love to see this horse, honey didn't you want to visit your daughter in DC ?I know I don't get along with the little @#&$# but ...... Awesome their giving fans a chance to see this horse outside of Cal.
mike More than 1 year ago
Yes I am very happy he is out here to run- 20 minute drive for me and looking like a good warm day. Looking forward to getting some pictures of him. Moreno too.
ctgreyhound More than 1 year ago
What about the potential dual between Moreno & Warrioroftheroses?
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
So get Beyer to ride him.
mike More than 1 year ago
lol