JC / Railbird

Beyer Speed Figures

The Missing Digit

That fewer Kentucky Derby prospects are earning 100+ Beyer speed figures in preps hasn’t gone unnoticed (see: Trending Down, 2011; Mike Watchmaker 2012), but it’s still a little odd to realize that not only did the last four Kentucky Derby winners not post a single triple-digit figure in their two-prep campaigns, but hadn’t done so in their entire pre-Derby career. Since 2009, only one starter with a 100+ Beyer as a 3-year-old (out of 13) has even finished in the money (Bodemeister, 2012).

With two significant preps remaining, the four highest winning Beyer figures of the Derby points races so far belong to Goldencents (Santa Anita Derby, 105), Itsmyluckyday (Holy Bull Stakes, 104), Verrazano (Tampa Bay Derby, 101, down from his previous high of 105), and Super Ninety Nine (Southwest Stakes, 101). The winning Derby Beyer has gone down by a point or two every year since Mine That Bird’s 105 in 2009, with I’ll Have Another getting 101 last year. Will the winner this year make like Giacomo and get 100?

Trending Down

Alan posted a sharp analysis of the Florida Derby over on Left at Gate, noting that the Beyer speed figure of 93 given to Dialed In for the just-there win “is a good 6-8 points lower than one might like to see from him at this point.” It is, but the figure is also one that’s become quite typical of Derby prospects.

If you look at the Beyer speed figure earned by each Derby starter in their final Kentucky Derby prep (column PR-BSF in the spreadsheet below) from 1998-2010, you’ll notice a pretty steady decrease in the number of 100+ BSFs appearing in prep past performances. In 1998, only two starters had not earned a triple digit figure in their final prep or in one of their two prior starts as a 3-year-old (columns 2ND and 3RD below). In 2010, only two came into the Derby with a BSF of 100, and only three — Devil May Care, Sidney’s Candy, and Jackson Bend — had even earned a BSF of 100 in their careers.

Listed in order of finish. X = no BSF available.

As a group, the average Beyer speed figure earned by Derby starters in their final Derby prep has declined from 101 in 1998 to the low 90s in recent years:

Average Kentucky Derby field last-out BSFs, 1998-2010.

This year, only six Derby prospects have rated a BSF better than 100 as 3-year-olds, and only The Factor (103, Rebel) and Soldat (103, allowance) have done so at a distance greater than a mile. With the Wood, Illinois Derby, and Santa Anita Derby all this weekend, it’s likely at least one winner will break through with a solid triple digit figure. Eskendereya did so in 2010, getting a 109 in the Wood, a figure that would have stood out in Derby entries if he hadn’t sustained a career-ending injury before he could get to Churchill. It wouldn’t have done much for the field average, though, which was a mere 93.

So Good It’s Bad

Bind’s super-impressive Saturday debut earns super-figures:

Bind earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for his performance and a Ragozin Data performance figure of 1 1/4, which is so good it’s bad, according to Len Friedman, a partner in Len Ragozin’s The Sheets.

“The history is that it’s a negative, not a positive,” Friedman said Wednesday. “It’s more likely to affect him negatively, but who knows, maybe [Bind] is another Uncle Mo.”

And a bit of skepticism from Mike Watchmaker:

… when a first time starter like Bind apparently runs a hole in the wind, then it is logical to look toward the horses who finished behind him for validation of the big figure. But when the horses who finished behind him all have scant form that is uncertain at best, then the best thing you can do is wait until horses out of the race in question run back. Their subsequent performances will either confirm the big Beyer, or bring it into even greater question.

It’ll be at least a month before the question is answered. Until then, enjoy:

The Triple-Digits

Dick Jerardi surveys this year’s 3-year-old division and finds it fast:

What we know is that we already have five 3-year-olds that have hit triple digits and more that are closing in on the magic number.

Last year’s lack of big Beyers three months from the Derby was a tip-off to an underwhelming Triple Crown season. There are no promises in this game, but there is at least promise at this stage.

By the Beyer speed figures, you have to go back to 2007 to find sophomores as promising in February and March. That year’s Kentucky Derby included Street Sense, Hard Spun, Any Given Saturday, and eventual HOTY Curlin.

After →