Updated on 09/17/2011 11:48AM

Not so fast

Cajun Beat became only the second horse to earn a Beyer of 120 or better in the Sprint.

BOSTON - This year's Breeders' Cup gave us an especially mixed bag of Beyer results. Some speed figures surprised on the high side. Others were dismally low. Only a few fell somewhere in the middle. The 2003 championship races had more extremes than usual. Unfortunately, there were more extremes on the slow side than the fast side.

First, the bad news.

Distaff: This clearly was the day's low-light. The previous record-low Beyer for this race - using the figures dating back to 1990 - was a 102 earned by Unbridled Elaine in 2001. Before that, no other winner had ever run lower than 105. But this year we saw a new bottom of 101 - far below the previous average Beyer of 108.76 for the Distaff. When Sightseek couldn't even keep up on the backstretch, and Got Koko and Elloluv didn't fire, that opened the door for the very modest filly Adoration. She wired the field in the slowest Distaff ever. A distinctly unimpressive start to the day.

Juvenile: The five best 2-year-olds took a pass on this $1.5 million purse, and their absence took a sorry toll. While nearly all the previous winners of the Juvenile earned Beyers between 97 and 103 - with an average of 98.91 - this year's figure fell far below this range. Even though the late-running winner, Action This Day, benefited from a fast, contested pace (as did the runner-up, Minister Eric), he still could only produce a Beyer of 92. Only one previous winner, Gilded Time, ever earned a worse Beyer - a lowly 87 in 1992. Cuvee collapsed, Chapel Royal couldn't handle the distance, and nobody else really belonged. As a result, only the first two finishers even managed a Beyer above 79. Clearly, the unprecedented multiple defections robbed this race of any pretense to championship caliber.

Mile: The previous average Beyer for the Mile was 111.92. Only two previous runnings had fallen below 110, the lowest being War Chant's 108 in 2000. But this year's winner, Six Perfections, set a record low of 105 - nearly seven points below average. This field looked terrific on paper, but disappointed in the running.

Only two races had average performances:

Filly and Mare Turf: In its brief, four-year history this race had previously averaged a Beyer of 107.75. This year's tight finish between Islington and L'Ancresse produced a figure of 109. Just as with the Mile, this field looked tremendous on paper, and the final Beyer wasn't bad. But few of the many apparent contenders did much running at all.

Turf: This race has a storied history. The victories of Fantastic Light (a Beyer of 117) and Daylami (118) are legendary. No winner has ever run below a 110, with a previous average Beyer of 112.5. This year's field looked very strong, attracting the top European runners High Chaparral and Falbrav, and a strong supporting cast. But the result was average. The exciting three-horse photo finish with High Chaparral and Johar in a dead heat, and Falbrav right behind them, earned a Beyer of 112.

In terms of Beyer Figures, the day was saved by three very strong performances:

Classic: As with the Juvenile, this year's Classic was plagued by major defections. Candy Ride, Mineshaft, and Empire Maker all failed to make it into the gate. But, unlike the Juvenile, these absences did not adversely affect the final Beyer. In fact, Pleasantly Perfect earned a 119, well above the average of 116.46 for past Classics. Even the runners-up, Medaglia d'Oro, Dynever, and Congaree ran approximately the average winning Beyer. This was a surprisingly strong showing for a significantly depleted field.

Sprint: Cajun Beat's winning Beyer of 120 was a shocker. This lightly raced, developing young horse continued his dramatic recent improvement, with another huge jump in his speed figure. Cajun Beat easily exceeded the average of 113.69, and is now only the second horse to record a 120-plus Beyer in the Sprint. The first was Artax in 1999.

Juvenile Fillies: Perhaps the most impressive performance of the day came from Halfbridled - the easy winner of the Juvenile Fillies. After being hung out four and five wide on the first turn, and stuck three wide the rest of the way, she drew away from a solid field and earned a Beyer of 99 - 3.3 points above average, and seven points higher than the 2003 Juvenile colts. And, she had a very tough trip, while her male counterparts had perfect trips. All in all, a powerhouse performance holding the promise of great things to come.

As measured by the Beyers, this championship day was a disappointment. There was no exciting, astronomical figure - nothing like Daylami's 118, Inside Information's 119, or Artax's 124. And, there were three extremely low figures - two of them actually all-time record lows.

Halfbridled was impressive, as was Cajun Beat and the over-achieving Pleasantly Perfect. But, strictly in terms of final figures, 2003 will not rank very high in the history of the World Thoroughbred Championships.

Breeders' Cup Beyers

Juvenile FilliesHalfbridled9995.93
MileSix Perfections105111.43
SprintCajun Beat120114.14
F & M TurfIslington109108.00
JuvenileAction This Day9298.57
TurfHigh Chaparral112112.50
ClassicPleasantly Perfect119116.64

* Average winning Beyer Speed Figure from 1990-2003.