09/18/2007 11:00PM

Old ways work on new track

EmailPHILADELPHIA - When Presque Isle Downs opened for business on Sept. 1, the Beyer Speed Figure maker at the new track was not operating in a dark alley. All the usual fundamentals applied, even though no horse had ever run in a race there before that evening. The parallel time charts that have stood the Beyer test of time are the key to making the figures at a new track.

"At most tracks, the relationships between times at distances around one turn is pretty standard,'' said Andrew Beyer, who makes the Presque Isle figs.

In other words, with a few exceptions, six furlongs in 1:13 (raw figure 64) is going to equal seven furlongs in 1:26.30 at every track.

What Beyer needed to determine was the relationship between one-turn and two-turn races at Presque Isle. Each track is unique in that way.

"At every track, we've got an adjustment number where we take our basic relationships and adjust it for that particular track,'' Beyer said.

Beyer could not know that relationship until some races were run. Once he got several days of data, he was able to determine that the two-turn races needed what we in Beyer World call an addition of 13 points to the route chart. Once Andy determined that, he was able to construct parallel time charts for the new track.

Delaware Park requires an adjustment of 6 points to the two-turn chart. Philadelphia Park has an adjustment of 10 points.

We know that a two-turn mile in 1:37.90 (raw figure 92) equals 1 1/8 miles in 151.30. What we don't know is if a 1:38 equals six furlongs in 1:11 (raw figure 92). Once we understand the relationship between one- and two-turn races, we make the adjustment to the two-turn chart.

"I'm starting on an assumption that once in a while it could be wrong, saying that we know the relationship between 5 1/2 and six furlongs that holds up at almost every track,'' Beyer said.

There are some tracks, such as Churchill Downs, where the one-turn relationship does not hold up. The run-up to six-furlong races at Churchill is one of the longest in the sport, which is why the first fractions of those races are so quick. Horses are getting a serious running start. When there is an aberration like that, adjustments are made to the one-turn parallel time charts.

"Tracks may just have their own idiosyncrasies,'' Beyer said. "I did pick up very quickly on one at Presque Isle that is a little bizarre. The track, for some reason, gets fast later in the day on many days.''

Presque Isle is the first track to use Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Footings on its main track. While the jockeys and trainers have been praising the surface as extremely kind to the horses, it may take a bit of time for those in charge to get a feel for how to maintain it from day to day.

One thing is certain. Once a field of horses has established its Beyer form, that form is going to translate from track to track, even if the track in question is just getting started. It is the years of Beyer data that make the figure-making task fairly straightforward even at a new track.

"It's not like you're starting with a total blank slate,'' Beyer said. "We know the figures these horses have run in the past. If we know a group of horses is supposed to run a figure of 90, then they go and run at Presque Isle, we're sort of assuming the figure is going to be 90 or thereabouts. We take it from there.''

If that field that was supposed to run a figure of 90 gets a raw figure of 100, we say that race is 10 Beyer points fast. We do those calculations for the entire card and develop a track variant, which we then add or subtract (depending upon whether the track was slow or fast) from the raw figures for each race and assign a figure for each race.

After the computations are made, Beyer Figures find their way into the database on the way to the past performances. Periodically, we go back and review par times, sprint-route relationships and individual Beyer Figures that raise questions. It is all part of the process that works even at a track where no races had been run until three weeks ago.