01/31/2008 12:00AM

Smashing records a la Disco Demolition


NEW YORK - Decades from now, schoolchildren clutching their electronic Daily Racing Forms may ask how a horse named Bob Black Jack could have run six furlongs in 1:06.53 at Santa Anita back in the winter of '08, the fastest of what must be more than a million Thoroughbred races that have been run at the distance on Planet Earth.

You might be tempted to tell them that it was an isolated crazy day, when the track reopened after several days of storms had washed away its surface, an afternoon the likes of which had never been seen before or since. In fact, Bob Black Jack's time at American racing's most common distance could just as easily have happened almost any of the other 19 days that Santa Anita raced during January. It was a world record waiting to happen.

Since the first set of storms pounded Santa Anita's Cushion Track and shut it down between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10, we have been witnessing what must be the fastest collection of six-furlong times in American racing history. There were 21 six-furlong races run from Jan. 11 through Jan. 26; 18 of them went faster than 1:09, including six run in 1:07.66 or faster.

What is even more remarkable is that only three of those 21 races were for accomplished horses in stakes races. Most of the others were for maiden claimers and bottom-rung open claimers, with not a single allowance race in the bunch. Students of time knew that the first time horses of any real quality were allowed to run six furlongs at the meet, records would fall.

It happened on Jan. 21, when the Santa Anita track was no faster than it had been the previous four days, but a good group, led by In Summation, Barbecue Eddie, and Surf Cat, turned up for the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Handicap. Consistent $12,500 older claimers had already run 1:07.60 earlier on the card, so it was going to take a subpar effort from all three favorites not to set a record. They did not disappoint. In Summation ran down Barbecue Eddie to score by a neck in 1:06.67, setting a track standard and equaling G Malleah's world record of 1:06 3/5 at Turf Paradise on April 8, 1995.

This is the same In Summation who set a six-furlong track record on Del Mar's new Polytrack last July when he won the Bing Crosby Handicap - in 1:11.06, a mere 25 to 30 lengths slower. Guess not all synthetic surfaces are created quite equal.

The next time Santa Anita raced, on Jan. 26, the track may have been just a pinch faster, but only a pinch. The Grade 1 La Brea winner Dearest Trickski won the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint by 4 1/4 lengths, sprinting clear through a moderate half-mile in a mere 43.39 seconds and crossing the wire after six furlongs in 1:07.66 "with the whip turned down and steady handling," according to the chart. That was a walk in the park compared with what Bob Black Jack did two races later.

In the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash, Bob Black Jack ripped off a half-mile in 42.46 - yes, a half in 42 and change - and ran a 24.07 final quarter for a six-furlong time of 1:06.53, lowering In Summation's and G Malleah's marks with a world record. The race earned a raw Beyer Speed Figure of 158, modified by a variant of -49 to a final fig of 109, the best by any 3-year-old in North America this year.

From a Beyer perspective, he's a more deserving world-record holder than G Malleah. Believe it or not, the main track at Turf Paradise, generally the fastest in American racing, was judged even faster than Santa Anita has been this year back on April 8, 1995. G Malleah's 1:08.60 (also in a statebred stakes race, albeit a $27,300 event for Arizona-breds) came over a track where the variant was an astounding -63, leaving him with a Beyer of only 93 for his effort.

G Malleah, a gelded son of Fool the Experts (by Crafty Drone), won 17 of 61 starts and $440,122. He is honored at Turf Paradise with the annual G Malleah Handicap at six furlongs - which, whether Ripley believes it or not, was run less than two hours after Bob Black Jack took his world record away last Saturday.

It might pay to keep an eye on Black Jack Bob because stealing one of G Malleah's records turned out to a sign of even better things to come the last time it happened. G Malleah set a Turf Paradise track record of 1:13.80 for 6 1/2 furlongs in 1994, and it stood for 10 years until it was lowered to 1:13.55 in the 2004 Arizona Juvenile Stakes - by a promising 2-year-old named Lost in the Fog.