Updated on 09/16/2011 9:52AM

Two victims of the BC bounce


NEW YORK - Xtra Heat, at 3-5, and Composure, at 1-5, both lost races on Saturday that few expected them to lose. And already their supporters are offering excuses.

In the case of Xtra Heat, who was beaten a little more than two lengths by Dat You Miz Blue in the Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct, her excuses are said to be the sloppy track and the weight she had to carry and concede. There may be merit to the matter of track condition. Xtra Heat won her only previous attempt over a wet track on a good track at Belmont, which was a far cry from the truly wet surface she encountered Saturday.

However, in my opinion, weight is a not a valid excuse. Xtra Heat carried 127 pounds and conceded 11 pounds to Dat You Miz Blue. But, 11 pounds is 1.1 percent of the total weight of a 1,000-pound racehorse. The equivalent of that for a 180-pound human is two pounds. Now, if you want to think that the outcome of a race between one much more accomplished and faster 180-pound athlete and another who isn't nearly as fast or accomplished would be affected by having the much better athlete carry two extra pounds, go ahead.

As for Composure, the explanations for her shocking four-length loss to recent maiden graduate Elloluv in the Hollywood Starlet at Hollywood Park were a wide trip and a winner who went largely unchallenged on the front end. The first excuse has some validity, because Composure was senselessly five wide on the first turn, and three wide on the second turn. The second excuse does not, and it unfairly diminishes the strong if unforeseen performance by Elloluv.

Elloluv did control the pace, but did so through early fractions of 23.58 seconds and 47.12. Those fractions compare well with those posted later in the card (23.48, 47.35) by solid older horses, who are supposed to go much faster, in the Native Diver Handicap.

In other words, Composure did not lose because some other horse got away with a cakewalk early lead.

A more rational explanation why Composure and Xtra Heat lost Saturday may have to do with the dreaded "B" word - bounce. "Dreaded" because this legitimate, if highly specific concept, has been so misused and overused that it has become a blanket explanation for any horse who doesn't perform up to expectations.

Bounce applies best when a horse delivers a gut-wrenching performance off a long layoff. It is absolutely reasonable to expect that after expending all that energy in a comeback, a horse will probably come up flat or bounce the next time out.

Apparently, another instance where bounce applies is with horses exiting certain types of performances in the Breeders' Cup.

Take a look at which horses came out of the Oct. 26 Breeders' Cup to run well. Almost all of them had one thing in common: none ran really hard or had a demanding race at Arlington.

Evening Attire didn't do much running when fourth in the Classic and came back to romp in the Red Smith. Take Charge Lady was through early in the Distaff, and she came back to gallop in the Great State Challenge Distaff. Dress to Thrill never got involved in the Mile, and she came back to win the Matriarch. Toccet never lifted a hoof in the Juvenile, and the same can be said for Atlantic Ocean in the Juvenile Fillies. Toccet came back to win the Laurel Futurity and Remsen while Atlantic Ocean came back to win the Miesque.

The only exception is Good Journey, who ran hard when third in the Mile, then came back to win the Citation. But, Good Journey is a turf horse, and a lot of people think bounce doesn't apply to turf, which is a more forgiving surface than dirt.

On the other hand, the list of those who ran hard in the Breeders' Cup and then came back to flop isn't pretty, and is growing. Thunderello, a sharp second in the Sprint, suffered a career-ending injury as the heavy favorite in the De Francis Dash. Forbidden Apple, a close fourth in the Mile, failed at odds-on in the Great State Challenge Turf. Golden Apples, a gaining fourth in the Filly and Mare Turf, lost the Matriarch as the strong second choice. Crafty C.T., a close third in the Sprint, failed as the second choice in the Cigar Mile.

Xtra Heat was beaten only five lengths after being part of a furious pace in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, and Composure nearly upset Storm Flag Flying in the Juvenile Fillies while laying it all out on the line. And now, you can add their names to the Breeders' Cup bounce list.