03/30/2011 9:05PM

What lies ahead for Maclean's Music?


As we head into the last few meaningful Kentucky Derby preps, it appears as if we have a particularly fast group of 3-year-olds. You know about Uncle Mo and The Factor.

The fastest 3-year-old, by Beyer Figures, is neither of those Derby contenders. It is a colt who has raced just once.

How fast is Maclean's Music? So fast that his March 19 race at Santa Anita was the fastest debut in the nearly 20-year-history of the Beyer Figures being published in Daily Racing Form.

Maclean's Music ran six furlongs in 1:07.44, which translated to a 114 Beyer.

In the last 20 years, there have been 24 horses with a debut of 105 or greater. Some of the horses went on to greatness; others disappeared with none of their arrival's fanfare.

Until Maclean's Music, the fastest debut was a 112. It has been done twice. The truly exceptional Formal Gold did it first, on June 12, 1996. Prosperous Bid then did it on Jan. 18, 1998.

Formal Gold is the best horse on the list. There is no doubt he is the fastest horse in the Beyer/DRF era.

After his debut, Formal Gold went 100, 99, 101. Then, it was 113, 110, and 108 in his final 3-year-old races.

As a 4-year-old, Formal Gold absolutely blew up. He got a 114 in the Donn and survived a fruitless trip to Dubai quite well. The horse got a 122 in the Massachusetts Handicap when second to Skip Away. He finished his year and career with a 126 in Whitney when, incredibly, he was second to Will's Way, followed by a 124 in the Iselin and a 125 in the Woodward. Formal Gold crushed Skip Away in both races.

The 112 first out definitely was a precursor of really big things.

Prosperous Bid's 112 was essentially it. The horse got a 103 in an allowance race a month after his debut and never won another race. He was pressed into the San Felipe, where he finished a distant third to Artax. Prosperous Bid was then eased in the Wood Memorial and was done by summer.

Formal Gold's summer debut obviously worked much better over the long run than Prosperous Bid's winter debut, which led to a rush into Triple Crown preps.

Tugger got a 111 in her debut. She never got back to that in a nice 28-race career. She had three other triple-digit Beyers.

Manistique won her first three starts by a combined 31 lengths. She got a 110 in her debut and a 110 in the Hollywood Oaks. She never got back to the 110, but she did have seven more triple-digit Beyers, with a best of 109, in a 15-race career that included nine graded stakes wins.

Hook and Ladder's first three Beyers were 110, 110, and 109. The horse had six more triple-digit Beyers, including a best of 111 in the 2002 Mr. Prospector Handicap.

Straight Man got 109 in his February 1999 debut. The horse came back with a 106, but did not go forward when raced in three stakes right after that, including the Derby Trial. Straight Man had four more triple-digit Beyers in a 15-race career.

Chilukki was crazy fast, as anybody who saw her April 1999 debut would remember. She got a 109 that day. She won her next five races. In fact, she won 11 of 17 races and more than $1.2 million. She earned figures of 107, 110, 104 ,and 108 later during a career in which she was favored in every race and more than lived up to that first impression.

Three Peat got a 108 in his 1992 debut. He won the Bay Shore with a 105 two races later, and finished first in the Dwyer with a 106, but was disqualified to second. Never a superstar but really fast, Three Peat had 11 triple-digit Beyers in a 20-race career.

Pulpit was really fast and really talented. The colt got a 107 in his January 1997 debut and never really backed off from the debut in a very brief but dazzling career. His other five figures were 108, 104, 100, 106, and 105. They were earned in an allowance race, a win in the Fountain of Youth, a second in the Florida Derby, a win in the Blue Grass, and a fourth behind Silver Charm in the Kentucky Derby.

That's some seriously hard racing in less than four months. And Pulpit pretty much held his form. You wonder how the colt might have done with a less-ambitious schedule.

Discreet Cat got 106 in his 2005 debut at Saratoga. The colt went on to win the UAE Derby the next year. Later in 2006, he earned Beyers of 112, 115 and 116 (Cigar Mile).

Two of the horses on the list raced this year. Neither came back to his debut in his second race.

Travelin Man got a 106 in his first race, but just an 86 when a distant second in the Hutcheson. Bind got a 105 in his first race, but faded when second going long in his second race and got just a 90.

So what is next for Maclean's Music? The colt is owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable and trained by Steve Asmussen. They have proven to be risk-takers in recent years with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, so it would not be a total shock to see the colt appear in Baltimore for the Preakness.

How good is Maclean's Music? Time will tell, but consider this:

His mother, Forest Music, is also on the list. She got a 105 in her 2003 debut at Laurel. She was sent to the wolves 17 days later and finished last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. Two years later, she got back to the debut level with a 106 in a Laurel stakes. She got a 105 when winning the Honorable Miss at Saratoga. Who knows what she might have done had she been handled differently.

Maclean's Music's sire, Distorted Humor, only got an 86 in his debut, but he had 15 triple-digit Beyers in a 23-race career, including four 110s, a 112, a 116, a 117, and a 118.

So the Beyer history is there. You start mixing debuts of 114 and 105 with all those giant Beyers from the sire, and you might really have something. What you already have is the fastest debut in Beyer Figure/DRF history.

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