02/11/2015 12:01PM

Jerardi: Stunted pace limits champions’ Beyers in San Antonio

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Benoit & Associates
Shared Belief (left) defeats California Chrome (right) in the San Antonio Stakes on Feb. 7 at Santa Anita Park.

Once I got past the euphoria of seeing a race between two marquee horses play out exactly as we all had hoped when Shared Belief and California Chrome hooked up with 100 yards to go last Saturday, I began to wonder why these two really fast horses had not run a faster final time.

When they both ran away from Hoppertunity in the stretch and were striding out like horses who wanted to keep running, I was envisioning a 115 Beyer Speed Figure. Then, Andrew Beyer posted a 106 for Shared Belief and a 104 for California Chrome.

So, what happened? The pace – or lack of it.

The pace in the 1 1/8-mile race was so slow that it was just about impossible for even these two really fast horses to get the big Beyers they are clearly capable of. According to Trakus, Shared Belief ran the first three furlongs in 36.10 seconds and the last three furlongs in 35.93, a serious finish for sure. California Chrome ran the first three furlongs in 35.97 seconds and the last three furlongs in 36.03, also a terrific finish.

Pacesetter Alfa Bird set the fractions of 23.65 seconds, 47.87, and 1:12.49. The big horses had no reason to go after Alfa Bird on the backstretch because the horse was never a threat to win. So, they waited and waited as the pace slowed in the middle three furlongs. When Shared Belief and California Chrome leveled off, they ran about as fast as they could in those final furlongs.

There is no way to quantify how much the pace affected the Beyers, but given the history of Shared Belief and California Chrome, how it appeared that they ran, and the big margin back to Hoppertunity, I think you could make a reasonable case that it cost them as many as nine Beyer points. So, if you told me that Shared Belief gave a performance that could have been a 115 under different circumstances, I would not argue. When he runs back, I will evaluate him like he did run a 115.

Another way to evaluate the effect of the pace in the San Antonio Stakes is to compare it with what happened earlier on the Santa Anita card in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. Dortmund and Firing Line obviously ran huge, beating the third horse by 21 1/2 lengths and each earning a 103 Beyer.

Does anyone believe those obviously very talented 3-year-olds are just one Beyer point behind California Chrome in ability? Of course not.

They were able to run a really fast time because they were attending a really fast pace. The fractions in the 1 1/16-mile race were 23.18 seconds, 46.80, and 1:10.70. They did not need to fly home to finish with a fast time. The pace set them up for the time. They finished heads apart in the Los Alamitos Futurity and, seven weeks later, heads apart in the Lewis. The Beyer went up 12 points for both Dortmund and Firing Line, which is possible for improving 3-year-olds but is at least partially due to the hot pace.

Beyer figures are a tool, but just like anything else in this puzzle, they need context. Pace is part of that context. Horses loose on the lead will earn Beyers they will never earn under any other circumstance. Closers who get pace meltdowns will earn Beyers they will not get in a more typically run race.

Shared Belief ran a wonderful race because he is a wonderful racehorse. You don’t win 9 of 10 (with an obvious excuse in his lone loss) without being an exceptional horse. California Chrome did not win, but one loss to a rare talent does not negate all the colt has done in his 17-race career.

I would expect Shared Belief to run absolutely giant in the Santa Anita Handicap. Mike Smith won’t have to be concerned with California Chrome. He will just be able to settle Shared Belief and let him roll when he wants to let him roll.

Really good American dirt horses have gone to Dubai and run really good races in the World Cup. California Chrome is a really good American dirt horse. I don’t know what he is going to be running against, so it is hard to predict victory, but I saw nothing Saturday that suggests California Chrome won’t run a big one in the desert.

Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Looked like the way old man Baedeker used to hndcp, only his were in 1/8ths He used to put the all eight winners on front of selections for 30 years after 1950 like the game never changed !
Ron Rios More than 1 year ago
So I think Jerardi is saying don't pay attention to beyers
David Oppedisano More than 1 year ago
Beyer speed figures are too heavily influenced by the Beyer Team's subjective opinion of the historical strength of the race in question. [Read the section in Andy's book on his "projection method."] Therefore, they're useful in assessing the class of races a runner is coming from, but not much else.
Jonathan Moore More than 1 year ago
I take Beyer's speed figures as serious as I do a politicians campaign speech. Both worthless.
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
The race is hard to make quick judgments. Shared Belief ran by California Chrome. But C.C. did the dirty work, chasing the rabbit, Alfrabird. Still, it did look like C.C. may have needed the race. They talk about S.B. going from the shorter-distanced Malibu, to longer distance San Antonio. But what about C.C. going from grass to dirt. Did that dull his speed or have some other effect. He did not seem to have that third gear. If he goes to Dubai, hopefully he will come back sound. Who is the competition in the World Cup. It will be more interesting to see how C.C. and S.B. run against each other again. S.B. most likely was the fitter horse. And he had the perfect set up and clear sailing. Need to see another race between the two before making any broad statements. Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer, on the square, in 3 of four races. Yet at least a few think Easy Goer is the better horse. Emotions run high from the partisans.
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
Easy Goer was better--everyone knows that
Richard Cadena More than 1 year ago
Most likely the majority that think that are from the East Coast; in particular, those from New York, where Easy Goer ran most of his races. If S.S. had run mainly on the East Coast they would be hailing him as the next coming of Secretariat, like they do for so many that are based on the East Coast. They did the same for Zenyatta versus Rachel Alexandra, another East Coast favorite.
jim lefferts More than 1 year ago
Take a look at what Easy goer did outside of the races against Sunday Silence. He ran one of the fastest races ever run in the Gotham. He won the Belmont, Travers, Whitney, Woodward and JC Gold Cup in succession. The only horse in history to do so, beating older horses in Grade 1 stakes 3 times. Nearly every time he ran he broke a track or stakes record. In The JC Gold Cup he beat Prized by 20 who had just beaten Sunday Silence. What did Sunday Silence do after the Preakness? He lost the Belmont by 8 to Easy Goer, lost the Swaps to Prized and won an incredibly weak Super Derby before edging Easy Goer after he got left at the start. Easy Goer accomplished far more. It's not close. Yes he lost the Preakness by a nose after breaking in the air and the Classic by a neck after breaking last on a speed favoring strip. It happens.
Rosemarie Cola More than 1 year ago
thank you Jim for all your factual references. I believe they are right on. Sunday Silence got the glory, but Easy Goer got the big Grade I wins and did what many fine horses after and before could not do. Got to visit him on the farm and he was magnificent. Sunday Silence had a great life in Japan and was probably the greatest stallion they have ever had and unfortunately Easy Goer didn't get the time to show what he could do but I know he sired some big horses before his untimely death. And yes I am from the east, but I loved Zenyatta so I don't know if I count as a bias fan.
wayne haehner More than 1 year ago
for some inexplicable reason--Jerardi thinks Beyer numbers mean something. How clueless can one be? It is the poorest measuring stick in racing--yet this guy babbles on and on nonsensically about these meaningless, over-rated numbers. No one takes Jerardi seriously anyway--even Keith Jones knows he is a blowhard
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
Thats four straight dirt losses for CC who simply is not that fast a horse...the worst HOY selection in recent memory...by year end he was possibly not even among the top three 3 y olds
jim lefferts More than 1 year ago
Agreed. But horse racing to the casual fan is all about the triple crown. When the favorite wins they get real loud and act as if they have a genuine passion for the sport defending their favorite. The reality is California Chrome was the flavor of the month of May. He is a good horse, not a great one. Shared Belief might be a great one. Real horse racing fans understand that.
Ron Rios More than 1 year ago
excellent point, whats amazing is that nobody took in the fact that the derby was one of the slowest ever, commanding curve came in 2nd… The preakness he beat ride on curlin who has never won a stakes or graded race,
Frank More than 1 year ago
make any excuse you want -- Could it be that these horses are not as great as you all think they are? CC is definitely overrated. I will think more highly of the horses once one of them beats open company in a Graded stakes outside of CA. CA tracks have always been built and maintained to favor CA based horses -- tough place to ship into. Why doesnt CC come east and face open company outside of CA? Shared Belief I understand leave him in CA to race a long and prosperous race career like Game on Dude did since he is a gelding. I think the Jackass's are a bunch of cowards for hiding out in CA and making up Grade I races with no quality horses (i.e. Hollywood Turf Derby--omg what a joke).
Mark D More than 1 year ago
So does going to Dubai make him no longer a coward in your eyes? Is shipping across the world far enough for you?
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Where you are correct is CC will NEVER win a race with open company. Doesn't matter where the race is. Showing the owners complete stupidity they are saying they are going to Dubai, which we all know is a mistake, except them because greed and stupidity just can't be helped. They think they'll have it easy over there and funny thing is he'll run good , but he won't win, and then after they'll come up with some reason to retire him , so they don't have to face Bayern or Shared Belief again, because they can't beat either of those two. As for SB, you are wrong Frank, SB can run with anyone in the country. But, for sure, he'll have to leave California for the Classic later in the year, and we'll see if I'm right or not...but, I feel I am. But, you are right CC is extremely overrated. He'll end up a California sire, and hopefully throws some good Cal breds, but he'll never throw a champion.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
Let me ask you this question Frank. If CC can never win an open company race (2nd-4th is the best he can ever hope for), then aren't the owners making the absolute right decision to go to Dubai? 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in the World Cup pays a lot more than any other race they will ever be able to find. Yet you say they are being stupid for doing so. That logic doesn't work, you can't have it both ways.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
I get your point Matthew. If we are talking pure dollars of purse money, then your assessment is correct. But, IF I was the owner of CC....which clearly I'm NOT...LOL. But, keeping CC sound and happy is first priority. A good stud career pays off way better than any purses he can make. So, I would take a different tactic, I'd keep him in the U.S. and find big races that he maybe could win....avoid SB and Bayern hopefully....keep him sound and try to prove to the American public he was better than we all think for the breeding shed...which is better financially. I'd get out of the California mentality and try to market him to be a stud at the best Kentucky Farm that would take him and promote him. The best way to have a chance at maybe being a good sire is you really need support of good blue blood mares, which go to Kentucky to be bred. Maybe try to have a good relationship with a genius like Ramsey....sell him the benefit of taking a shot by standing CC next to the great Kitten's Joy. Ramsey is a genius and he has been breeding his KJ's to the great Tapit...which is awesome. But, maybe prove CC might be a good sire, talk him into taking him on at that farm and maybe get some mare support to mix in with that great stock he and others have in Kentucky. My long term plan would be to race him where he could win, so the Kentucky folks would give him a shot...which is where the stud money is way better than when he can make racing. We all know that CC owners have no vision, CC will end up standing in California and breed to low rent mares there, which really ends up getting nowhere. Listen if they want to treat him like a gelding and take him to Dubai, where he can run that one race for big bucks, but knocks him out for 5 months after, where then they can have an excuse for running right behind the winner than that's fine. But, I think trying to win races in the U.S. , where the general public love and adore this horse would be way more fun...and ironically in the long run possibly more profitable in the breeding shed....that is, of course, if they wake up and decide to stand him in Kentucky.
Matthew Hood More than 1 year ago
I see, thanks for explaining your point more. Always enjoy reading your thoughts.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Thanks Matt. Extremely cool of you. Good luck to you.
Jackson Jackson More than 1 year ago
CIGAR LOST the Gr. I Hollywood Derby by about 20 lengths .
Big Woodys More than 1 year ago
Bayern would have gone wire to wire and won by 5+ lengths if he was healthy.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
dreaming is free
jim lefferts More than 1 year ago
If the pace was so slow, then why was California Chrome stopping? Clearly Shared Belief would have beat him even more easily if the pace were any faster. Meanwhile, Constitution ran a 113 Beyer in the Donn. Which begs the question: How many triple crown races would CC have won in 2014 if Shared Belief, Constitution and Tonalist were healthy?
Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
California Chrome was stopping???????? Ran his last eighth in 12.1. That is not stopping. He just was out finished by a monster. Vince P
mark More than 1 year ago
Agreed 12.1 in final furlong is not stopping. What race was this guy watching?
Ken O'Connor More than 1 year ago
Haters gonna hate!
Joel Firsching More than 1 year ago
In the stretch drive, belief isnt going by until smith delivers four hard whacks with the whip. Then he passes and victor hits chrome with the whip and instantly backsup. Smooth runners run poorly with aggressive riding. If you wanted to beat the smooth striding rachel, other jockeys would make an early aggressive move in the last turn.
Tom Jefferson More than 1 year ago
How many excuses must be made for CC? Watch the RB Lewis. Both Dortmund and Firing Line came home slowly based on fractions but neither one gave in. When Shared Belief engaged CC he stopped no matter what your fractions tell you.
Mark D More than 1 year ago
Stupid question...we can say that about EVERY Triple Crown race in history. How about what if Birdstone, Victory Gallop and Touch Gold DID get hurt? Same logic by your account.