09/02/2008 11:00PM

Top two Beyers deliver $76 exacta


PHILADELPHIA - I was hanging out in the fabulous Borgata on the evening of Aug. 12 when an unexpected opportunity presented itself. The seventh race at Mountaineer Park, $5,000 claimers going 5 1/2 furlongs, was loaded with early speed. The two best closers also had the two best recent Beyer Speed Figures.

As I headed into the racebook, I wasn't expecting to bet exactas that paid nearly $80. But the bettors apparently did not see what I had seen. Or didn't think it important. One of the closers, Formal Testimony, was 5-1. The other, Mr. Truthful, was 7-1.

The 5-2 favorite, Princely Pickle, looked certain to be caught up in what had to be a speed duel. There were four other confirmed front-runners and only one of them, Fine Quality, had recent competitive Beyer Figures.

So, even without understanding the race shape and how it might affect the result, this was a race that could have been played on the basis of Beyers alone.

There was a two-horse speed duel up top and a three-horse secondary duel behind it. Formal Testimony was sixth and Mr. Truthful eighth after a quarter-mile. Victory was hardly assured, but, as any good player knows, you just hope to see what you thought you would see and then hope the racing gods are with you.

Fine Quality, the only real Beyer threat, missed the break completely. Given the expected speed duel, that may not have looked like a good omen at the time. Turned out to be a bit of good fortune.

On the far turn, with my two horses moving in company, it was already clear what the result would be. The front-runners were starting to tire. Formal Testimony dived to the inside while Mr. Truthful came five wide. They hooked up with 150 yards to go and ran to the wire together, Formal Testimony winning by a nose. The exacta of the best Beyers and the best closers paid $76.40.

Fine Quality was heroic in defeat, coming from last and closing to be fourth. That was a reward by the racing gods.

So was the exacta price. I could have not have anticipated that.

But it does prove that, if you pay attention and happen to find yourself in the right place at the right time, there is still money to be made out there.

All-time worst winning Beyer

Speaking of Beyers, we here at Beyer Headquarters are always working. And we found something that has to rival the Mountaineer Miracle for sheer historic value. On July 20, the legendary Ginathewitch won her maiden at Mount Pleasant Meadows. The 4-year-old filly needed 17 starts to win. In those starts, she had three positive Beyers - a 10, a 7, and a 19. Her other Beyers had been in negative territory. The Ohio-bred is not Breeders' Cup nominated.

She was 2-1 in the second race at Mountaineer on July 20 against three first-time starters and the tough Reason to Flow, a horse that had beaten Ginathewitch by 8 1/4 lengths in a July 6 race. No matter. Ginathewitch withstood a four-horse speed duel and ran away from the field such as it was to win by 1 1/4 lengths. The humbled Reason to Flow was second. That the pacesetter fell on the far turn and another horse lost his rider could have been a factor. But those are just details.

Ginathewitch, running 4 1/2 furlongs in 58.91, had earned her place in Beyer history. The other 4 1/2-furlong race on the card went in 54.97. We think Ginathewitch had the slowest winning Beyer in history, a minus 2.

It shows up as a 0 in the past performances, but Ginathewitch is better than that. She is a minus 2. She is a legend.

Ginathewitch has run back twice since her heroic victory. Alas, she finished fifth in a nonwinners of two at Pinnacle. But she did earn a 12 Beyer. She went back to Mountaineer after that and the players did not forget. She was the solid 6-5 favorite in a field of six. She ran sixth from start to finish. She was in minus territory again, but nothing will steal her moment.

Curlin ought not skip BC Classic

Speaking of moments that some might consider more important, I find the Curlin-Big Brown debate fascinating. Clearly, by the Beyers, Curlin is the better horse. But if the Curlin camp does not bring their horse for the Breeders' Cup Classic, they are putting their great colt at great risk for the highest year-end honor.

If Big Brown wins the Classic, I think he is a lock for Horse of the Year. I can't imagine anything trumping the winner of the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Haskell, and BC Classic. For that reason alone, I think the Curlin people, who appear to be softening, have to show at Santa Anita.

If Big Brown and Curlin do race, it will be the event of the year. It will be great for a game, which needs some good news. And it will take a rather large Beyer figure to win.