04/02/2003 12:00AM

Standouts to be found at bottom of totem pole


Las Vegas - Consider the lowly Beaming Star, a New-York bred gelding already nine times around the track without a win. His jockey hasn't won at the meeting, and his trainer is a very unfamiliar name who is 0 for 3 this year. And Beaming Star has lost his last three races by 17 3/4, 10 1/4, and 13 3/4 lengths.

What could anyone possibly see in a horse like this?

Beaming Star ran in the fourth race at Aqueduct on March 26 - a $25,000-$30,000 maiden claimer at one mile. The field of 10 was a particularly weak bunch. Only a few of the horses had been able to run Beyer Speed Figures into the 60's, and they were all quite inconsistent and unreliable.

Beaming Star fit in very comfortably with these runners:

1. If you tossed out his most recent effort, on a sloppy track against open-company maiden special weights, he had a very high Beyer Figure of 58 in his next-to-last race - a figure that would give him the second-highest Beyer in the field (behind Whiskey Chaser, who also had run most recently on a sloppy surface and had a 61 Beyer before that).

2. While Beaming Star's Beyer Figure of 58 had been earned at six furlongs, his Beyer Figure at one mile in February 2002 showed that the stretch-out to eight furlongs should not be beyond his admittedly limited capacity.

3. There were no interesting Beyer Figure patterns among the other runners. They were all known quantities with consistently poor records. There were no "mystery" horses or lightly raced drop-downs - no horses with any visible evidence that dramatic improvement might be expected.

In such an uninspiring affair, you would think even a lowly horse like Beaming Star would get some respect. After all, if he could repeat a Beyer in the 58 range, he would be a major contender. But he went off at 44-1. The reason? We can only guess that, because his Beyer of 58 had been earned with a poor-looking past performance line (he had finished seventh, 10 1/4 lengths behind), the bettors overlooked him.

His little-known connections very likely also contributed to his total neglect by the betting public. (Big-name trainers such as Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, and James Jerkens also had horses in the race. Those horses attracted support for no apparent reason other than the names of their trainers.)

As it turned out, Beaming Star didn't actually win the race. But he did finish second with a Beyer of 52. The exacta with a 7-1 winner paid $445.50. The trifecta paid $5,197. Perhaps lowly horses like Beaming Star can't be considered prime bets, but, at the astounding price of 44-1, such a horse should at least be considered a must-use.

Now, consider the even more lowly Nordic Lass - in an even more talent-challenged field. It was the ninth race at Laurel later the same day as Beaming Star's race. In this field of 10, if you could run a Beyer Figure of 19 or 20 you were a possible contender. No horse had ever run a figure above 27 on the dirt. And, just as in the case of Beaming Star's competition, there were no unknowns who could surprise - except for Nordic Lass.

As a 2-year-old filly, Nordic Lass had run twice at Louisiana Downs in October. She had earned Beyers of 16 in both of those races. She was now returning to the races after a five-month layoff, dropping to the lowest maiden-claiming level at Laurel, and stretching out to 1 1/16 miles. With normal maturation over the five months between her 2-year-old and 3-year-old seasons (1 to 1 1/2 points per month), she could be projected to run a Beyer Speed Figure in the mid-20's. That would make her the clear top Beyer in a dreadful field. Fitness and distance were obvious questions. But Nordic Lass had some big pluses: a solid Beyer angle off the layoff, an extremely weak field, and odds of 9-1.

Nordic Lass jogged home an easy winner by 9 3/4 lengths. She paid $20.60. Her Beyer of 35 overwhelmed this lowly crew.

Some of the best Beyer angles can be found in the most lowly of races. Value is value, wherever you find it.