10/20/2003 11:00PM

Manning says Valid Video is genuine threat


ARCADIA, Calif. - Speed figures be damned. Dennis Manning scoffs at the lack of respect given his 3-year-old sprinter Valid Video heading into the Breeders' Cup Sprint. He could have a point.

Shake You Down enters the Sprint with the highest six-furlong figure - a 121 Beyer Figure earned July 12 at Calder, where he raced six furlongs in 1:10.03. Valid Video also won July 12 at Calder, getting six furlongs in 1:10.15. Although the time was slower by only .12, Valid Video earned a Beyer Figure of only 110.

The 11-point discrepancy irritates Manning. "They never give [Valid Video] any respect," he said. "They never do. All I know is we both finished up in the same time. I was four wide setting the pace; he was wire to wire on the lead. I carried more weight [122-119] than he did. I'm a 3-year-old; he's older."

The difference in figures is justified, according to Beyer Associates' Mark Hopkins, who produces the Beyer Figures from Calder that are published in Daily Racing Form. Hopkins said the speed of the Calder track "changed in the middle of the day. It was one of the most unusual days at Calder I've seen."

Because of the changing surface, Hopkins "split the variant." Speed handicappers typically make figures based on a track variant (the speed of the track relative to the average) that covers the entire day. But on July 12 at Calder, track conditions changed so radically that Hopkins adjusted the variant in the middle of the card. The raw Beyer Figure earned in race 10 by Valid Video was 103, adjusted plus 7 to a 110. The raw Beyer Figure earned two races later by Shake You Down was 106, adjusted plus 15 to a 121.

Notwithstanding the figures, Manning will arrive in California with supreme confidence - "I wouldn't trade places with anyone," he said.

Valid Video's only sprint defeat was May 24 over a sloppy track in which he did not wear toe grabs. Otherwise, Valid Video is perfect up to seven furlongs, and has defeated every 3-year-old in the expected Sprint field that he has run against - Zavata, Posse, Great Notion, and Cajun Beat.

Owned by Mac Fehsenfeld, Valid Video won his last two starts rallying from behind, but Manning said, "I could be in front if I wanted to."

Valid Video worked a half-mile in 49.40 seconds Tuesday at Monmouth Park, and was scheduled to ship Wednesday. The Sprint will be his first start against older rivals, and his first start since winning the Grade 1 King's Bishop on Aug. 23 at Saratoga.

He will arrive as a fresh horse for Manning. "I've taken a lot of criticism for not running between the King's Bishop and now," Manning said. "If I can't have a horse fit to go three-quarters off a two-month layoff, I might as well throw away my license. If he gets beat, it won't be because he ran out of trainer.

"My horse is a tough S.O.B.; he keeps coming at you. He's a gutsy little son of a gun."

* Yankee Gentleman worked three furlongs at Santa Anita in 36.20, breezing. "It was just a little breeze so he doesn't have too much time between his race and last work," trainer John Shirreffs said.

* Trainer Scott Lake took exception to a report that Shake You Down drifted out in his blazing 45.20-second workout Monday. "When we work him, we keep him in the fourth path. Otherwise, he'd have probably gone in 43 and change," Lake said Tuesday. "Everything to this point has been perfect."

* A field of 13 is expected to be entered for the Sprint: Aldebaran (Jerry Bailey), Bluesthestandard (Mike Smith), Cajun Beat (Cornelio Velasquez), Captain Squire (Alex Solis), Ethan Man (Rene Douglas), Great Notion (Tyler Baze), Midas Eyes (John Velazquez), Posse (Pat Day), Private Horde (Jason Lumpkins), Shake You Down (Mike Luzzi), Valid Video (Edgar Prado), Yankee Gentleman (Pat Valenzuela), and Zavata (Gary Stevens).