12/12/2008 12:00AM

Young speedsters bear watching


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Haynesfield, winner of the Damon Runyon at Aqueduct last Sunday, joined Remsen Stakes winner Old Fashioned, Birdonthewire Stakes winner You Luckie Mann, and Joseph O'Farrell Stakes winner Frolic's Dream as juvenile stakes winners who have run Beyer Speed Figures of 100 or higher.

These are among the handful of 2-year-olds who have reached the triple-digit Beyer plateau during the 2008 racing season.

To date, there are nine in this group: You Luckie Mann (colt by Exchange Rate, 107), Frolic's Dream (filly by Smoke Glacken, 105), Notonthesamepage (colt by Catienus, 104), Elusive Heat (filly by Elusive Quality, 103), Haynesfield (colt by Speightstown, 101), Quality Road (colt by Elusive Quality, 101), Silver City (colt by Unbridled's Song, 101), Old Fashioned (colt by Unbridled's Song, 100) and Obligingly (colt by Officer, 100).

Of these nine with Beyer Figures of 100 or higher, only Notonthesamepage ran the figure earlier than October, and the two latest additions to this group of overachievers are Obligingly and Haynesfield, who ran their best figures on Dec. 7, with Obligingly winning a maiden special at Calder and Haynesfield winning at Aqueduct.

The Speightstown colt Haynesfield showed improved form in his third start as he won the Damon Runyon over a mile and 70 yards at Aqueduct, defeating the Northern Afleet colt Fiddlers Afleet and the Officer colt Legal Consent.

Out of the Tejabo mare Nothing Special, Haynesfield ran the distance in 1:42.95 for his Beyer of 101, winning by 5 1/4 lengths.

Bred in New York by Barry Weisbord and Margaret Santulli, Haynesfield was a $100,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale who turned into a bargain-basement juvenile, selling for $20,000 at the Keeneland April sale.

"It's not a perfect story," Weisbord said Friday from Argentina, "because I sold the mare in November for not much money."

In foal to Songandaprayer on a March 15 cover, Nothing Special brought $50,000 from Phyllis Adair. Weisbord said that the breeders decided to sell the mare because she "had had some very good foals and some not so good. She had been a bit spotty. Haynesfield was an okay yearling and was a bit backward."

Haynesfield sold to Maverick Racing, which is the racing venture of WinStar Farm, and they had the ill fortune to resell the colt as a 2-year-old in training for a fraction of what they had paid initially.

"We don't always make money on our horses," said Doug Cauthen, president of WinStar. "At the time we bought him, he was a big, rangy colt with a lot of athleticism, and we thought he'd grow up and make a nice pinhook horse. As it turned out, he had a few little vetting things and was in an awkward stage of growth. But it's part of our plan to buy horses by our stallions and then resell some of them, and we try to follow through with the plan, even though we'd like to have him in our racing stable."

By purchasing yearlings by the WinStar stallions, the operation helps to support its own sires, and by selling some, the operation spreads nice horses into the program of other trainers around the country.

Cauthen said that Haynesfield "looks like a top two-turn runner, and we had always thought the Speightstown horses would have the size and scope to develop that way."

Most top-class horses show their ability early, and horses who can perform at the exalted level required to produce a triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure are seriously talented athletes. Performing that well early is even more impressive.

For instance, Elusive Heat and Quality Road both scored their impressive speed figures in their debuts. High debut figures are an impressive indication of racing ability but have a mixed record for producing stakes results.

A handful of exceptional racers, such as Horse of the Year Holy Bull and Breeders' Cup Mile winner Lure, have indicated their ability with similarly high Beyer Figures.

Although the speed figures are a measure of extraordinary talent, the promise is not always proven quickly on the racetrack. On the one hand, Holy Bull ran a 101 in his debut and became an unbeaten Grade 1 winner at 2, but Lure didn't win again at 2 and didn't win a Grade 1 stakes until the next year.

In addition to being fascinating indicators of high ability in a particular athlete, the Beyer Speed Figures are also evidence that a colt or filly is a quality breeding prospect.

Both Elusive Heat and Quality Road are by the Gone West stallion Elusive Quality, who was a star on the Beyer scale long before he ever won a stakes race. Elusive Quality ran a 102 Beyer in his debut and improved enough to run a 122 and a 123 before his career was over.

Unbridled's Song ran a Beyer Figure of 118 in his final start at 4 and is the sire of two juveniles in this group.

Another star of the Beyer Figures was the quick juvenile Officer, who won five times as a 2-year-old and recorded Beyers of 102 and 106 in winning the Champagne and the Best Pal.

Likewise, Officer has produced some very precocious and fast runners, including Obligingly, who ran a triple-digit Beyer Figure in only his second start.

We can watch these talented young athletes as they develop over the next few months with greater attention because of the evidence from their early speed figures.