05/21/2003 11:00PM

View final figures in terms of pace ratings


ELMONT, N.Y. - One of the benefits of constructing pace figures is the extra dimension it provides for analyzing final-time figures.

The main theory of analyzing pace is that energy expended by a horse early will not be available late, and the symmetry of that relationship is a constant source of amazement. It's almost enough to make a handicapper believe there is at least a bit of logic and order amidst all the chaos that surrounds us, and that is reassuring.

An example ripped from today's past performances is Alysweep, one of the contenders in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park. From the perspective of Beyer Speed Figures his best race was the Gotham, in which he received a 103 after getting a clear early lead through slow fractions and winning. His best race since then came two starts later, a second-place finish in the Withers in which he ran a 96 after rallying from behind fast fractions.

So the traditional method of final-time analysis suggests that Alysweep ran better in the Gotham than in the Withers by 7 Beyer points, or approximately four lengths at one mile.

But consider Alysweep's efforts in the Gotham and Withers expressed in another way. Using the 2003 HorseStreet Pars (www.horsestreet.com) and factoring in track variants from each of those days, Alysweep's Quirin-style pace and final-time figures look like this: Withers: 111-106; Gotham: 107-110

Looked at in this way, the total energy expenditure put forth by Alysweep in the Gotham and Withers was the same, it was just distributed differently. In each case, adding his pace and final-time ratings yields a total of 217.

The more you familiarize yourself with the nuances of pace and construct your own figures, the more this kind of direct relationship presents itself on a daily basis. Interested readers are directed to "Modern Pace Handicapping," Tom Brohamer's masterpiece on the subject, available through DRF Press.

A pace angle for maiden sprints involves young, inexperienced horses who haven't yet learned to rate and commonly expend too much energy in the early stages of their races. When this kind of lightly raced maiden has been recording high pace figures but has unremarkable final-time numbers, it is a legitimate threat to improve, especially when dropped in class from special-weights to claiming company, where the pace is usually slower, or when an equipment change is made. Alysweep, for example, changed his running style when trainer Pat Reynolds removed the blinkers for the Withers. Another Peter Pan contender, Nacheezmo, lost the first four starts of his career wearing blinkers, but has won both starts since trainer James Bond took them off. "He hasn't been so rank without the blinkers," Bond said. "He was leaving his race in the first half-mile. Taking the blinkers off has really brought out his talent."

It goes without saying that pace figures are sometimes next-to-impossible to calculate due to myriad factors - and on turf, they often don't seem to mean anything at all.

Stay current with trainer patterns

Trainer patterns can also be difficult to get a handle on, and players should always be on the lookout for changes in established trends.

At Belmont's 2002 spring meet, for example, Kiaran McLaughlin brought in a string of horses who had wintered in Dubai, and he compiled a very respectable 11-for-39 record. Most importantly for players, his horses went off at good prices. Jim Mazur's latest edition of The Belmont Handicapper (www.proghandi.com) shows that McLaughlin-trained runners compiled a $53.20 profit based on a $2 flat bet, with an average winning mutuel of $11.93.

McLaughlin's modus operandi last year was to crack down second time back from the layoff. This year his horses have come out firing right away. His first four starters at the meet produced three wins and a runner-up finish, including Canadian Frontier, who graduated from the maiden ranks at a $39.60 mutuel in his first start since January.

McLaughlin's other winners were Abreeze, the 8-year-old gelding who last year rose from $35,000 claimers to graded stakes races, and Lunar Sovereign, who won Wednesday's third-level allowance feature race on grass as if destined for graded stakes.