11/09/2011 4:55PM

Juvenile figures don't always add up

Barbara D. Livingston
Union Rags, with his trainer, Michael Matz, has shown a different dimension in each of his four races.

The Breeders' Cup Juvenile got a 94 Beyer Speed Figure. Thus, this must be a weak group of 2-year-olds. Not necessarily.

As much as I love the numbers, they really have been not much help in predicting 3-year-old form. Since 1997, the Juvenile has been won with a triple-digit Beyer six times. Only one of those winners had a serious 3-year-old campaign.

Favorite Trick got 101 in 1997. He was voted Horse of the Year. He had four triple-digit Beyers the next year, but never got much beyond that 101. Anees got a 102 in 1999. He raced three more times without winning. Vindication got a 102 in 2002 and never raced again. Stevie Wonderboy earned a 104 in 2005. He got a 105 in his only 3-year-old start when second and never raced again.

War Pass got that brilliant 113 in 2007 and never came close to it again. Uncle Mo got that 108 last in 2010. We know that story.

Only the 108 Street Sense got in 2006 turned out to be predictive. The 2007 Kentucky Derby winner, he was a serious racehorse who proved it that entire year.

Not sure I have an explanation, but perhaps if the modern American race horse runs too fast too soon, he simply can't sustain it.

Which brings us to Hansen, Union Rags, and Creative Cause. What we know is that the three are quite consistent, but not yet terribly fast. Perhaps, that is a good thing.

Union Rags, for one, just looks like a horse who has not come close to his peak. The colt has shown a different dimension in each of his four races. He has a move that wins races. He is already a very big horse with a very long stride. Give him a few months of growth and development at Palm Meadows and maybe he will turn out to be the one that goes forward in a serious way.

The last time Michael Matz and his team had a talented 3-year-old, they were able to get him to peak on Derby Day. Remember, Barbaro really had not run all that fast until he blew away the field in the 2006 Derby and earned a 111 Beyer. Earlier that year, Barbaro had gotten a 95 in the Holy Bull and a 103 in the Florida Derby.

Now, I am not comparing the two colts. But when you see a trainer execute a Derby plan once, you have some faith that he can do it again.

If there were one recent horse that Union Rags reminds me of most, it would be Point Given. Big. Long stride. Acceleration.

Point Given lost the 2000 Juvenile by a nose. In 2001, he won the San Felipe, Santa Anita Derby, Preakness, Belmont, Haskell and Travers. A rare Gary Stevens miscalculation may have cost him the Derby on that crazy-fast track.

Point Given's Beyer in that Juvenile? 99.

Yes, the numbers always matter. Many fast 2-year-olds, however, are only that. They never go forward.

Smarty Jones was a recent exception to that rule. He was really fast as a 2-year-old and even faster as a 3-year-old.

Time will tell us about Hansen, Union Rags, and Creative Cause.

I am not as comfortable saying Hansen and Creative Cause are going to go forward in the numbers. But, as closely as I have watched all of Union Rags' races, I can't imagine this colt does not have more to give.

Which is why I am so looking forward to 2012.

Pick six a tough one

I singled Union Rags in the pick six. I was hoping Saturday's pick six results would be similar to Friday's. And so many others on Breeders' Cup days through the years.
A few logical favorites. And a few longshots.

On Friday, it was 2-5, 2-1 and 2-1, along with 6-1, 20-1 and 27-1. So, if you were smart enough to single Secret Circle, My Miss Aurelia, and Royal Delta and turned it into a pick three with the right horses, you would have hit for $444,571.20.

I singled Union Rags and Goldikova. I had the other four. I can't imagine how I would have come up with Court Vision, even if I had gone deep in the Mile. But it would have been nice to see what would have happened if Union Rags had gotten up.

Wonder if there would have been any tickets with all six winners. And, if not, wonder what 5 of 6 would have paid. Obviously, it was not going to be the $95,070 it did pay. Court Vision ensured that payout, but Union Rags would have brought it way down.

Combine 64-1 with 6-1, 6-1, 7-1, 14-1 and one 2-1 favorite, and you get what you get. I had the two 6-1 shots, the 14-1 and the lone favorite winner. Where were those other two favorites when I needed them?

Not sure what 2-1 and two short-priced favorites (Union Rags and Goldikova) might have paid, with that pair of 6-1 shots and a 14-1. It would not have changed anybody's life, but at least all those hundreds I arrived with would not have turned into ones.