Paulick Report Forum brought to you by Breeders’ Cup: Talking Speed Figures with Beyer

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Andy Beyer Andy Beyer

Andrew Beyer’s “Picking Winners: A Horseplayer’s Guide,” published in 1975, was one of the first horse racing books of any kind I ever read. First and foremost, it was a fascinating explanation of how to compile your own speed figures based on the formula Beyer developed after leaving Harvard University in 1965. (Legend has it Beyer didn’t graduate because he skipped a final exam scheduled on the same day as the Belmont Stakes.)

“Picking Winners” also went a long toward making the challenge of handicapping and betting on  a horse race a whole lot of fun.

Beyer began his writing career at the Washington Daily News in 1970 and switched to the Washington Post in ’78, where he had a long and influential run as the paper’s horse racing columnist. He is now retired and occasionally contributes to the Post and Daily Racing Form, where the Beyer Speed Figures he invented are a mainstay in the past performances.

Beyer is controversial and doesn’t mince words, whether he’s writing or about medication and regulatory issues, synthetic tracks, or who should win election as Horse of the Year. I don’t always agree with Andy, but I always respect his opinion on any racing-related subject. He is an outstanding reporter and writer, but his longest-lasting contribution to racing will be his creation of the Beyer Speed Figures and his willingness to bring them to a wide audience rather than keep them to himself for his own betting purposes. Beyer discussed a wide range of topics with the Paulick Report several days after this year’s Breeders’ Cup championships.

What kind of number did you give Blame for winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and how does it compare historically in the context of that race?

The figure for the Classic, for both Blame and Zenyatta, was 111, which is the weakest number for the race except for Raven’s Pass two years ago.  It is far below great horses such as Ghostzapper and Easy Goer, who each earned a 124.  I think the number puts Zenyatta’s talents into proper perspective.  She’s not just a synthetic-track freak. She ranks among the best U.S. fillies and mares ever. (Azeri, the last female Horse of the Year, had a career best of 111.) Her fans can reasonably argue that she’s the best U.S. female ever. But you can’t rank her alongside the all-time great males, as a lot of people maintained before the Breeders’ Cup.

I occasionally hear Eclipse Award voters saying this horse should win a divisional championship or Horse of the Year because he or she got a superior figure. Should Beyer Speed Figures be used that way to separate horses in Eclipse Award voting when all other things are equal or close to it?
When you don’t have head-to-head comparisons available, I certainly think that speed figures are a more accurate gauge of horses’ ability than standards such as “Who won the most Grade Ones?”

You made some adjustments in how your team calculates figures for synthetic tracks in the last year. Are you satisfied with the numbers you are now producing on those tracks?
Last year, when we finally had a great deal of data about figures on synthetic tracks, we found a subtle flaw in our calculations that we never could have anticipated.  The top-class races at a track were producing figures lower than they had on dirt; at the same time, the bottom classes (such as. maiden-claiming fillies) were producing higher figures.  This was not logical, and the same phenomenon was happening at every track. We made some technical changes to the mathematical underpinnings of our calculations and I am satisfied with the results.  A theoretical horse with the same ability on dirt and synthetics ought to run about the same figure on each: Zenyatta got a 112 on the Pro-Ride at Santa Anita in ’09 and a 111 on dirt this year.

Nevertheless, synthetic tracks pose other problems that we rarely encounter on the dirt. The early pace on synthetics is sometimes so slow that the horses can’t accelerate fast enough at the end to run the fastest final time of which they are capable.  If a horse is capable of running a mile in 1:36, but the first six furlongs of a race have been run in 1:14, he won’t get to the wire in 1:36. In such cases, we don’t want to give the horses in the field figures that are ridiculously low, so we’ll assign a figure to the race that more accurately reflects the horses’ true level of ability.

How many people actually do the calculations, and has there been much turnover in who works on the figures?
My partner, Mark Hopkins, and I have five employees; each of the seven of us has tracks for which he is responsible. In addition, Mark and I take an overview of the whole operation. We have had very little turnover. Randy Moss and Dick Jerardi have been calculating figures since they read “Picking Winners” in 1975 and they have been part of our fig-making team since the very beginning.

There are occasional criticisms from the West Coast saying good horses in California don’t earn as high a figure as good horses in New York—even before the synthetic tracks were installed there. Are there unintentional regional biases?
People love to second-guess the figures, and there are plenty of situations where I’ll readily admit that we’re uncertain about a particular day or a particular number. But I am totally confident that our figures are in line with each other at tracks across the country.  An 80 in California is equal to an 80 in New York or in Kamloops, British Columbia for that matter.

Readers will sometimes observe that a horse earns an 80 at one track and a 90 at another and leap to the conclusion from that anecdotal evidence that the figures are too high somewhere or too low somewhere else. However, we have the capability to analyze the results of all the horses who ship in and out of a track. For example, we can ask the computer: Show us every horse who shipped between Charles Town and Mountaineer in 2010 and the figure he earned in each place. We make such comparisons all over the country.  Sometimes we’ll find that the figures are slightly misaligned. If a large sample of shippers runs on average one point higher when they go to Charles Town, we might subtract a point from all the races at CT.  When readers see that all the figures at a track have been raised or lowered by a point or two, that’s what’s happened. We’re continually checking to be sure that tracks are properly aligned. 

You probably have more competition than ever before with Thoro-Graph, Ragozin Sheets, Brisnet and even Equibase getting into the act. How do Beyer Speed Figures differ or compare to other performance numbers?
I don’t take seriously any speed figures that are purely computer-generated. There are too many situations that require human oversight. A strictly computerized methodology will too often produce a figure that defies common sense.

I respect the Ragozin and Thoro-Graph operations; I am sure they take their work as seriously as we do.  We have different methodologies and philosophies.  The Beyer Speed Figures purport to do only one thing: express how fast a horse has run in any previous race. The Ragozin and Thoro-Graph numbers include some other factors—most notably the ground that horses lose by going wide on the turns. I question the logic of taking one aspect of a horse’s trip (ground loss) and incorporating that into his figure while ignoring other aspects that might be even more important (particularly pace.) I don’t share the Sheet Guys’ devotion to the Bounce Theory and to the idea that you can look at a sequence of numbers on a page and predict whether a horse is going to improve or regress today.

Is making money at the races more difficult today than it used to be, when the Daily Racing Form speed rating (which took the track record and factored in beaten lengths) was the primary number available to most horseplayers?

Absolutely.  In the 1970s and 1980s, speed handicappers would regularly collect giant prices on horses with standout figures. Those days, alas, are long gone.

What else about the game has changed the most over the last 25 years?
The supreme importance of the trainer as a handicapping factor. You may interpret this as being synonymous with the supreme importance of drugs. Sure, the skill of trainers has always been important, and there were miracle-workers like Oscar Barrera decades ago. But now practically every track in America has a trainer or trainers who dramatically improve almost every horse they claim and who post outlandish winning percentages. Bill Mott — maybe the best horseman in America — has never won with more than 25% of his starters in a year, but guys now come out of nowhere to win at a 30 or 40% clip.  If the name of the trainer was blacked out in the past performances, you could not handicap intelligently

What keeps you going back to the track and the betting windows (though they might be virtual windows these days)?
It’s still the most stimulating mental challenge I know.

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  • Bocephus

    Despite Beyer’s detractors and although most people would agree that the Beyer Speed Figures aren’t perfect, I really do admire Andy Beyer’s honesty and brilliance.
    His speed figures really established a standard (a number) that people could understand and use–not only in handicapping, but in assessing the actual quality and value of a horse using an objective measuring stick.

  • bob Hope

    The Beyer number has become part of the fabric of American horse racing. In his comparisons between tracks in the east and west and the example of charles town and mountaineer we would like to know if circumference and banking of the tracks are factored into his alignment process?

    thanks

  • paul w

    As beyer (small “b” intended) has gained stature, racing has plummeted. He has done this sport no favors.

  • Dave

    Beyers figures in Ca. seem to be so much smaller with plastic tracks. They seem to move up ten points when they get on dirt.

  • http://www.theknightskyracing.blogspot.com The_Knight_Sky

    First and foremost, it was a fascinating explanation of how to compile your own
    speed figures based on the formula Beyer developed after leaving Harvard University in 1965.

    __________________

    I wonder what Mr. Beyer’s classmate and now UMass professor Sheldon Kovitz
    thinks about giving speed figures “the retro-fit”?

  • Butch

    I think the reason trainers win at higher rate is because of horses placement in races. Rags and Thorograph numbers tell you where your horse fits. If you go by Beyers you have no shot of knowing where you stand. Bris numbers are so much better anyway.

  • YanYarD

    If BSF’s were cars, there would be a national recall. Where’s Ralph Nader when you need him?

  • http://Paulickreport.com C C C

    Briliance this guys a retard can’t spell horse

  • Garrett Redmond

    The obsession with speed, no matter who writes the formula, is a major cause of the decline in stamina of American horses.

    Speed figures, by Beyer, Ragozin, et alia, belong with Dosage figures, ‘Nicks’, etc: In the garbage can.

  • SteveG

    People love to knock Andy Beyer. It makes no sense to me. Disagree with certain opinions, yes. But I don’t get the broadsides. It reflects poorly on the attacker. Professionals refrain, I’m sure.

    The single biggest problem I observe with BSFs is that the users ask the figures to do too much for them. The Beyers are a single handicapping tool to be used in conjunction with other tools. That’s the case with any brand of speed fig, computer generated, calculated via abacus or on one’s fingers & toes. Then again, some people think a hammer is an all-purpose tool, too. That’s why we give our children rubber versions of the real thing.

    Combine that misuse with the ready availability of BSFs in The Form & there’s poorly intended betting dollars landing on high fig horses & creating value in the pools on other contenders who measure up on other valid parameters & are live wagers.

    Betting the fig horse doesn’t make you a handicapper anymore than watering the lawn makes you a gardener.

  • http://www.teamvalor.com Barry Irwin

    Andy Beyer is the best writer of our generation. I always look forward to reading what he has to say. He is brilliant!

  • Susan

    “It is far below great horses such as Ghostzapper and Easy Goer, who each earned a 124.”

    Uhh, Easy Goer didn’t win the Classic…

  • http://www.theknightskyracing.blogspot.com The_Knight_Sky

    #11 Barry Irwin wrote:

    Andy Beyer is the best writer of our generation.
    I always look forward to reading what he has to say. He is brilliant!
    __________________________________________________

    As a writer he is very good. And I have long been an admirer.

    But my main gripe with Mr. Beyer and his cronies like Mr. Crist have been preaching
    wagering into the pie-in-the-sky pools. While glamorous to them, the super exotics
    quickly tap out beginners and intermediates for a variety of reasons.

    Asking Joe Blow from the office to sit down at a poker table with established players like Doyle Brunson, Mike Caro, Jonathan Duhamel, Vincent Van Patten and Jennifer Tilly can not possibly be good for the wallet.

    I would like to see Mr. Beyer and other writers address the need for reduction in takeout rates in the basic win-place-show pools more often than they have.

    These pools are the building blocks for future horse players and these basic pools
    must be priced more attractively while new fans learn the ropes.

  • Thehorses

    Gambling is always part luck. Learning things about horses based on previous performances may increase ones chances of winning but betting on horses is never going to be an exact science. Horses like human athletes have their great days,their good days and occaisionally bad days. Astute trainers or track vets will scratch horses if they are ill or lame and sometimes horses have scratched themselves by refusing to load or sitting down in the gate,etc. Handicappers do not always win no matter how they pick their horses. The odds of winning are a lot better than any state lottery and unlike poker where you can only win by getting the best cards or bluffing and not being called and the winner takes all in horse racing a lot of bettors can win on the same race. The odds of winning in horse racing are much better than most other forms of gambling and unlike some other forms of gambling you can increase your odds of winning by learning. The more one knows about horses the better their chances. In horse racing one can bet with the “experts” instead of having to compete against them. Everybody who gets a program gets the “expert” picks in it. Luck is all some people need. They bet a number or those “pretty silks” and win.

  • Patrick Powell

    “The Beyer Speed Figures purport to do only one thing: express how fast a horse has run in any previous race.”

    Unfortunately, this is not entirely true. When a race’s pace is extremely fast or slow (which regularly occurs on all surfaces, whether dirt, turf or all-weather), and the final time ends up slow due to the pace, the Beyer for that race will be adjusted for the pace, not the track’s condition.

  • Ray Paulick

    Andy obviously misspoke when he referred to past Breeders’ Cup greats like Ghostzapper and Easy Goer and asked that I correct his comment to Sunday Silence, who defeated Easy Goer by a narrow margin in the 1989 Classic.

  • Correction.

    Azeri was the last female horse of the year? Someone need’s to tell JJ he needs to verify Rachel’s gender. Mr. Paulick, you should hire a proofreader, these mistakes are becoming far too humorous.

  • Jim C.

    Ray said: “Andy obviously misspoke when he referred to past Breeders’ Cup greats like Ghostzapper and Easy Goer and asked that I correct his comment to Sunday Silence, who defeated Easy Goer by a narrow margin in the 1989 Classic.”

    That was a Freudian slip on Beyer’s part, Ray. Beyer has nothing but contempt for West Coast horses (e.g., look at his shenanigans with Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks), and still probably cannot get over the fact that Sunday Silence beat Easy Goer three out of four times.

  • Eddie V

    The Sunday Silence classic ugh another example of Pat Day getting Easy Goer beat again luv the big fig

  • Titletown Matt

    I don’t understand all the hate (jealousy?) toward Andy Beyer. The man revolutionized handicapping. Jim Cramer, of Mad Money fame, considers Picking Winners to be one of the best books ever written…on any topic. I would go so far as to say that no one is more responsible for the success and education of modern day horseplayers than Andy Beyer. Through his books and his Washington Post column, his enthusiasm for the sport has inspired thousands. I’m 27 years old, and I would not be playing the races today had I not stumbled upon reading Picking Winners five years ago. Beyer has forgotten more about handicapping than any of us will ever know.

    “As beyer (small “b” intended) has gained stature, racing has plummeted. He has done this sport no favors.”

    Oh, so its not the drugs, crooked owners and trainers, high takeout, or minimal TV coverage that’s killed the sport? Its Andy Beyer. Gotcha.

    Congratulations! I’ve read a lot of unintelligent comments on this site, but yours definitely takes the proverbial cake. Through his writings and enthusiasm for the sport, few people have done more for this sport and the industry.

  • William Nack

    Andrew Beyer is one of the greatest turfwriters who ever lived, and the fact that he has never won an Eclipse Award for his journalism—or an Eclipse Award of Merit for his creation of the Beyer Speed Figures, a major contribution to the game—constitutes a disgrace to this sport of which I continue to be ashamed.
    When I was the president of the National Turfwriters Association in the early 1990s, I twice urged the poobahs of the sport to give Andy an Eclipse Award of Merit for his ground-breaking work in the creation of the Beyer Speed Figures, a major advance that worked to popularize the game, and twice I was rebuffed on the grounds that he had been too critical of the sport in his columns in the Washington Post.
    I tried at the time to argue that it was precisely such Beyeresque criticism that the sport needed, that the game needed his voice of dissent to keep it honest and straight, but my pleas were to no avail. I might as well have been howling up a rainspout.
    Given the trouble the sport is in today, it is not diffcult to see how it got there, with the leadership of the game having been in the hands of such egregious morons.
    Beyer deserves recognition today as much as he deserved it 20 years ago, with an Eclipse Award of Merit for his enormous accomplishments as a handicapper and author, and I dare any sane fan of this sport to challenge this assertion.
    Regards, William Nack

  • Jim C.

    Mr. Nack,

    I loved your books on Secretariat and Ruffian, and respect you immensely. But I respectfully disagree with you regarding Beyer. Beyer has been constantly belittling Zenyatta and her achievements non-stop the past two years. And she showed for two consecutive years the inherent limitations of his figures; on paper, her figures did not compare to the males she crushed. I don’t remember either you or Beyer criticizing Personal Ensign for not running enough against males and leaving New York as often as Woody Allen. I just love the double standard you guys on the East Coast impose on California horses.

    And his speed figures are utterly biased, and reflect his opinion of the horse, not the figure they actually ran. Just take a look at what he did to Blind Luck in the Delaware Oaks. His figures do not account for elementary performance factors such as weight carried, ground lost, and slow pace. That Eclipse Awards voters would consult Beyer Speed Figures in casting their votes is what constitutes a disgrace to this game.

  • Cris

    When I see that Andrew Beyer has written a article for the Post, I race to the paper. I love the way he writes. If he had the ability to charm the way he has the ability to write he would have married the Queen of Sheba and would be living in a castle with millions of bucks he did not have to earn, or bet. The Andrew Beyer I have seen on more than one occasion can suck the air right out of a room with his negative comments and depressing delivery of a number of subjects. His favorite, the dismal tin can called the Pimlico grandstand and the lousy Maryland race track owners. I am not saying he is wrong, it is just the way he expresses himself in public does not have the touch of his columns. I have to admit, I have never forgiven him for picking Private Terms in the KY Derby. If Andy picks it to win the derby and that is your favorite horse tear up your ticket!

  • Titletown Matt

    “Beyer has been constantly belittling Zenyatta and her achievements non-stop the past two years.”

    Zenyatta is not the first horse Beyer has criticized and she won’t be the last. Heaven forbid, someone say something critical of Zenyatta. I don’t understand why she is held to this double standard.

    Maybe its because I’m in the Midwest, but I don’t understand the whole East vs. West Coast aspect of all this. Its petty and its childish…

  • Todd

    ANDY BEYER IS LEADING SHEEP OFF A CLIFF.

    HE COULDN’T PICK HIS NOSE, LET ALONE WINNERS.

    IF ANDY BEYER’S FORMULA WAS SO GOOD, HE WOULDN’T SELL IT OR TOUT. HE WOULD KEEP THE ODDS AND THE PAYOUTS ALL TO HIMSELF.

    NO RESTAURANT SELL’S THEIR MONEY MAKER (AKA: “RECIPE”). WHY IS ANDY SELLING HIS? HE COULD KEEP IT ALL TO HIMSELF AND MAKE A KILLING.

    HE’S A DEGENERATE GAMBLER. LET’S CALL IT WHAT IT IS.

  • Quinn

    OMG Todd,

    I couldn’t of said it better myself.

  • Tim R.

    Boy if the quote’s from Todd (below) are not the truth, then I don’t know what is:

    “IF ANDY BEYER’S FORMULA WAS SO GOOD, HE WOULDN’T SELL IT OR TOUT IT.”

    “NO RESTAURANT SELL’S THEIR “RECIPE”.”

  • Jim C.

    Titletown Matt says: “Zenyatta is not the first horse Beyer has criticized and she won’t be the last. Heaven forbid, someone say something critical of Zenyatta.”

    In Disney’s Secretariat film, there is a scene in the barn where Beyer is running his mouth, criticizing Secretariat. Then, Big Red hoses his shoes. I cannot wait for a repeat of that scene in the Zenyatta movie.

    By the way, Beyer did pick Blame in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Anybody who knew anything had to have Blame covered on the multit-race tickets. What I find astounding about Beyer, though, is that he didn’t even have Zenyatta finishing in the top 4. Same thing last year. He wrote before the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic that: “It requires a giant leap of faith to conclude, from her 2009 form, that Zenyatta can beat the Classic field that includes the best U.S. males — Summer Bird and Quality Road — and a pair of high-class Europeans. It is preposterous that she is the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite.” “Giant leap of faith,” eh Andy?

    That’s what happens when blind loathing overcomes rationality.

  • Joern

    Quote from “Dave”:

    “Beyers figures in Ca. seem to be so much smaller with plastic tracks. They seem to move up ten points when they get on dirt.”

    This is why Andy Beyer is a joke. His Beyer formula does not work on synthetics. DRF had to actually come out and publicly state via a DRF article that he has no clue about synthetics and is re-adjusting his formula for them. Anyone that wants the article, I can send it to them.

    Meanwhile, Andy Beyer loathes “synthetics” and has a deep distain for them because his formula “still to this day:” has problems with them. Synthetics are a threat to his pocketbook, because as more tracks went to them, he could see more problems on the horizon- his formula would turn out like the dosage system (AKA: an antiquated system that doesn’t work).

  • Titletown Matt

    “In Disney’s Secretariat film, there is a scene in the barn where Beyer is running his mouth, criticizing Secretariat.”

    Secretariat did his major winning in 1972 and 1973. Andy Beyer didn’t write his first book, Picking Winners, until 1975. He didn’t become a columnist for Washington Post until 1978. So Andy Beyer was a nobody when Secretariat was running. Also, Andy was using his figures at the time so he knew and appreciated how good Secretariat was. I think Disney took a little creative licensing with this scene.

    He wrote before the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Classic that: “It requires a giant leap of faith to conclude, from her 2009 form, that Zenyatta can beat the Classic field that includes the best U.S. males — Summer Bird and Quality Road — and a pair of high-class Europeans. It is preposterous that she is the 5-to-2 morning-line favorite.”

    My apologies, Jim. I was unaware that you have never been wrong in your predictions about a horse or a horse race. Surely you must be laughing at me while you sit in your mansion purchased with your constant pari-mutuel success.

  • tinky

    Paulick Report – free

    DRF single card online – $2.95

    $1 four horse trifecta box – $24.00

    Jim C. making fun of Andy Beyer – priceless!

  • Gene

    In the late 1990′s, there was a trooping of the Sartinistas to the win window to cash their tickets, at Pimlico. As they passed Mr. Beyer one of them asked him why his Beyer-numbered horses weren’t winning for him.

  • Jim C.

    Tinky,

    Oh, I forget. Your the guy who said on another blog post that Zenyatta “lacks late acceleration.” Whatever, my friend.

    Where is it written that no criticism may be lodged against Andrew Beyer, and that his speed figures are not to be questioned? So anytime he renders an opinion on a horse, we must accept it, as if he were speaking ex cathedra?

    On July 10, 2010, in the 7th race at Delaware Park, the Barbaro stakes, 1 and 1/16 mile, Trickmeister wins with a final time of 1:45.32. Same park, two races later, same distance:Blind Luck wins the G2 Delaware Oaks with a final time of 1:43.34. Over TWO SECONDS faster. But Beyer assigns Blind Luck a LOWER SPEED FIGURE?

    Beyer really grovels in his explanation. Beyer says that “the fast time for the Blind Luck race was an aberration on the sloppy track–the only question is how much of an aberration. If the time had been taken at face value, Blind Luck and second place Havre de Grace would each have gotten a figure of 116.”

    Beyer initially “assigns” Blind Luck a 95 BSF. Weeks later, after she wins the Alabama, he “upwardly adjusts” her speed figure to 99. Not sure where it stands now, four months after the race. That’s the problem with Beyer. He doesn’t assign the figure that the horse earns, based on final time and a track variant. He assigns a figure based on his opinion of the horse, and as a general rule, he loathes West Coast horses. (Regarding his “revisions” based on his opinions, he even more or less BOASTED about this at the 2007 Horseplayer’s Expo, and says the same thing in his interview with Ray.

    I also find it fascinating that both Ragozin and Thoro-Graph assigned gave Zenyatta consistely solid numbers throughout her career. Beyer? He assigned her numbers in line with a high-level allowance horse. On paper, she was not within 10 lengths of the top horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic the past two years, according to the Beyer Speed Figures. The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic will go down as Beyer’s Waterloo.

  • Titletown Matt

    Where is it written that no criticism may be lodged against Andrew Beyer, and that his speed figures are not to be questioned? So anytime he renders an opinion on a horse, we must accept it, as if he were speaking ex cathedra?

    —————————–

    Jim, this is not the case at all. I’m not saying Beyer is always right. Even he wouldn’t say something like that. To the contrary, in nearly every one of his books, he ridicules himself and stupid opinions he’s had over the years. What I am saying is that he deserves far more respect and credit than he has been given in the comments of this column.

    As far as his figures go, I’m neutral. I won’t criticize them and I won’t defend them. I handicap with trips and trainers.

  • tinky

    Jim –

    First of all, you are consistently dishonest in your quoting of me. I never said that Zenyatta lacks “late acceleration”. So, part of the reason that I am critical of you is that you can’t even argue honestly.

    Furthermore, you are prone to ridiculous straw men arguments, such as this:

    “Where is it written that no criticism may be lodged against Andrew Beyer, and that his speed figures are not to be questioned?”

    Neither I, nor anyone else said anything of the sort.

    Then, ironically, you attempt to ridicule Beyer for throwing out a favorite (Zenyatta), an approach to wagering that has made him (and many serious gamblers) more money over the long-haul than you can imagine.

    I could go on, and on , and on…

  • Patrick

    @Jim C.

    You’re a broken record, constantly cutting and pasting the same tired lines 20 times a day on all the racing blogs from your mom’s basement. How many more times are you going to trot out your beloved “Woody Allen leaving New York” line?

    Why not get a lawyer and sue Beyer, Hancock, and everyone else you find repulsive for emotional distress?

    A complete and utter bore.

  • Nancy

    Patrick – ROFLMAO. Zenyatta is retiring so hopefully we get some new material sometime soon.

  • Jim C.

    Tinky,

    You previously wrote: “But her running style was a major limitation, she lacked the explosive acceleration which allows the very best horses (e.g. Goldikova, Miesque, etc.) to win races in a matter of strides, and she only faced two serious tests in her career, winning one and losing one. ”

    Your statement is true to the extent that a late running style exposes a horse to potential traffic issues. But for you to say that Zenyatta “lacked explosive acceleration” is absurd. She covered the last furlong of the 2010 Vanity in 11.6 seconds. She covered the last quarter mile of the 2010 Breeders Cup Classic in 23 and 4/5 seconds. And check out her Bris late pace figures, which are consistently excellent.

  • Jim C.

    OK, Patrick. I am still waiting for you to name ONE U.S. based mare in the past 20 years that regularly faced males at the Grade 1 level at a classic route distance. I keep repeating the question because none of the detractors are able to answer it.

  • http://www.teamvalor.com Barry Irwin

    This latest bunch of unkind comments from readers has convinced me of one thing–that if a genius like Andy Beyer can be so unfairly criticized and harshly treated by some of the low lifes as appear in this particular thread, then it is time for me to stop posting on line in the future. I am not going to read crap like this anymore.

  • tinky

    Jim C. –

    Congratulations on quoting me accurately – for a change.

    It’s not just that extreme one-run horses like Zenyatta face potential traffic problems, even more importantly their principal opponents almost always enjoy the advantage of gaining first run. Furthermore, when you couple that big tactical advantage enjoyed by horses which can be placed more forwardly in a race (i.e. those with better tactical speed), with an explosive acceleration like that displayed by Goldikova, one-run horses have virtually no chance of winning.

    Goldikova, incidentally, ran her final quarter in 23 1/5, and won without being fully extended. That is obviously a sharper and more impressive acceleration than the type shown by Zenyatta, and when viewed, palpably so.

    Zenyatta never faced a horse remotely as good as Goldikova, nor one with her rare type of acceleration. Had she, then she would have lost more than one race…

  • http://www.theknightskyracing.blogspot.com The_Knight_Sky

    It’s sad that many of the comments in this post reflect that Mr. Beyer
    despite his contributions, is still a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

    Perhaps more interviews with Stone Phillips is in order. ;-)
    I think the thoroughbred racing world needs to know more about the man,
    the myth and the legend before we throw eggs his way.

    For Andy Beyer’s next book, I can only hope it is an autobiography
    for he still has a lot of explaining to do.

  • Patrick

    @Jim C.

    I answered your question already. You just didn’t like/accept the answer. It’s #41:

    http://www.paulickreport.com/blog/secretariat-opening-weekend-box-office-may-fall-short/

    If you’re not getting the “right” answers from people, perhaps you should go stand in front of a mirror and just respond to yourself. And don’t forget to throw in that Woody Allen line while you’re at it and give yourself a hearty chuckle.

  • Jim C.

    Tinky,

    There you go again, comparing apples to oranges. It’s certainly easier to run the final quarter faster when the race is only a mile long. I shouldn’t have to explain that to you. You cannot compare a main track classic distance horse to a turf miler.

  • Jim C.

    Patrick,

    At least you had the courage to honestly answer the question with the right answer: zero.

  • tinky

    Jim C. –

    “It’s certainly easier to run the final quarter faster when the race is only a mile long.”

    You really like to make things up out of thin air, just to fit your current position. If the above were the case, then it would logically follow that the fastest final quarters of all would be in sprint races. And yet, to use just one of countless examples, Big Drama, winner of the BC sprint, covered his final quarter in 24 3/5.

    Wait – let me guess – you’ll now argue that my example is apples to oranges to peaches (i.e. Jim’s “fruity conspiracy theory”). Which brings me to a point that I have made several times before: any serious observer of the game can assess the relative abilities and quality of horses IRRESPECTIVE of their individual surface and/or distance preferences. The notion that one “cannot compare a main track classic distance horse to a turf miler” is ludicrous, and exposes you as being incapable of seriously arguing such nuanced exercises.

  • Patrick

    @Jim C.

    No courage necessary. Too bad you didn’t have the courage to admit I gave you the right answer the first time.

  • Randy

    Barry Irwin,

    Perfect! Now disappear.

  • tinky

    Todd and Bruce (above) –

    Not only is this a red herring, but a ridiculous one at that.

    Following your logic, every one who creates and sells speed figures, including Ragozin, Jerry Brown, etc., if a fraud, because if they “worked”, then they would never be sold publicly. That is nonsense, of course, as even the developers of various speed figures understand that they are a tool, one variable, which can be used to the advantage of sophisticated handicappers. They are not, nor were they designed to be, a magic “winning formula”, to be used blindly in order to generate a profit.

    Furthermore, even if good speed figures would provide a theoretical advantage to their developers if kept off the market, it is obviously more conservative to sell them (little money at risk), and the return is (certainly was in Beyer’s case) potentially much greater.

    Is that really too hard for you to understand?

  • Jim C.

    Tinky said: “the notion that one “cannot compare a main track classic distance horse to a turf miler” is ludicrous, and exposes you as being incapable of seriously arguing such nuanced exercises.”

    Yawn. First off, regarding your repeated claim that Zenyatta lacks acceleration, or late acceleration, no fair minded observer would make that contention. It’s absurd. Ask Aidan O’Brien, or Henry Cecil, or Christophe Clement, or Bob Baffert, or Mike Mitchell, or John Sadler if Zenyatta lacks acceleration. The point is so absurd to not even warrant discussion, and “exposes you as being incapable of seriously arguing such nuanced exercises.” Again, go check her Bris late pace figures.

    As for comparing Goldikova to Zenyatta, yes, it’s apples and oranges, and most observers would agree. You claim that “Zenyatta never faced a horse remotely as good as Goldikova.” Nonsense. Last year, she faced the best two European colts then in training, Rip Van Winke and Twice Over. Last time I checked, Rip Van Winkle finished ahead of Makfi, who previously defeated Goldikova. Last time I checked, Twice Over, in 2010, won two Group 1s at a mile and 1/4.

    To be sure, Zenyatta did not defeat Rip Van Winkle and Twice Over on turf, but as Jerry Brown of Thoro-Graph has explained, Pro Ride plays far closer to turf than to dirt. (And the year before, a European turf horse won the Breeders’ Cup Classic over Pro Ride). Zenyatta also beat Gio Ponti. Last time I checked, Gio Ponti finished second to Goldikova.

    Still not sure what Goldikova even has to do with this discussion. Would she have the edge over Zenyatta at a mile on the turf? Absolutely. Would Zenyatta have the edge at a classic distance over the main track? Again, absolutely. The fact is that we’ll never know how good Goldikova is on the main track, or how good Zenyatta is on turf. We know Zenyatta is formidable on dirt, and on Cushion Track, which plays closer to dirt. We know she did not like Polytrack; she didn’t like to train on it, or to run on it. We know that she was as formidable as any horse ever on Pro Ride, which plays closer to turf, and which suggests she would have been good on turf. On Pro Ride, she earned the best best Beyer Speed Figure ever recorded in a two-turn route race over a synthetic surface.

  • Jim C.

    Patrick,

    Please forgive me – I forgot that you gave the right answer the first time. I do respect your opinions, even the ones I disagree with.

  • http://paulickreport sammyfrommiami

    all i can say is “SUN IN ACTION”

  • SteveG

    If one cannot reasonably compare horses at different distances, surfaces, levels of competition, with different race dynamics, etc. then how in the world does one attempt to wager on the races where apples are running against oranges all the time?

  • keen observer

    I agree with Barry Irwin and that doesn’t happen all that often.

    Whether you agree with his opinion or not, Andy Beyer is a brilliant writer and commenter on horse racing. He was one of my inspirations when I first got into the game 20 years ago. While I disagree with many of his opinions and find some of his personal foibles to be challenging (e.g., while the leading turf writer in the country, he refuses to attend the Derby due to his intense dislike of the Louisville area), he has done a world of good for the game by revolutionizing popular handicapping methods, by zealously defending the wagering side of our business as legitimate sporting and entertainment activity and by railing against super trainers and the unscrupulous use of medications. The controversy his opinions some times generate is also good for the sport, much in the same way that the Calvin Borel-Javier Castellano fisticuffs were. A little controversy gets people talking and interested.

    I have found that Andy’s biggest detractors fall into two camps: horsemen who think the game is conducted for their benefit and who are genuinely contemptuous of the bettors who fuel the sport and racetrack executives who don’t like the frankness of his opinions and his less than subtle delivery.

    When I saw the headline the other day about whether the Paulick Report had jumped the shark, I thought no, but many of the commenters have. Ad hominem attacks, undue negativity, the same points of view over and over and over… Perhaps its time to go to the Gawker media model of screening and registering “the commentariat” so that only the worthy can post. No one ever said this was a democracy.

  • Tim L.

    Todd,

    Your post is so true. Andy Beyer could walk off into the sunset and my words to him would be “Good Riddance”.

    Andy Beyer is not worth the power to blow up.

  • Garrett Redmond

    Too many comments on various articles degenerate into childish stone-throwing. None of that produces a thing of value.

    The level of discussion might be raised if actual names rather than “Noms de Chickens” were required.

    Ray, you may be well advised to consider that step

  • Jim C.

    Roger Stein (a SoCal trainer) and John Hardoon (of the Ragozin Sheets), on Stein’s radio show of November 14, 2010, dissected Beyer’s recent appearance on NPR. Audio available here: http://www.rogerstein.com/radio/archive2.asp

  • Marshall Cassidy

    Congratulations, Ray,

    At this moment in time you have delivered so interesting an addition to the Paulick Report that 56 reader responses have been tallied. Great interview, great interviewee and a great reaction by your readers. Job well done!

  • Mac

    Jim C:

    They were all just laughing at Beyer. That was a great!

    If an eastern-based horse was 19-0 (going into the Breeders Cup Classic), Beyer would be singing a different tune. Beyer is a racist. He thinks east is better than west.

    Thanks Jim, for the Roger Stein Show link. I was entertained. This Beyer is an “absolute” clown.

  • Jim C.

    Question for the speed handicappers out there: which product do you like better, the Ragozin Sheets or Thoro-Graph? Why (other than comparative cost)? I have listened to Breeders’ Cup seminars the past few years by both, and was impressed by each, but have not incorporated either into my play that much yet.

    I saw Jerry Brown, Len Friedman, and Andy Beyer at a 2007 Horseplayer’s Expo panel in Las Vegas. Brown got into a debate with Friedman over track variants. Friedman said Ragozin generally uses one track variant for each track for each day. Brown said Thoro-Graph will use one variant for 2-turn route races, and another for one turn races. But Friedman pointed out that the problem with that approach is that it results in far smaller sample sizes, which means that the final numbers assigned will be closer in line with the usual expected number, not the number which the horse actually ran. (On the other hand, I have seen Brown proffer convincing arguments regarding why tracks change throughout the day; but this does not overcome the issue with the small sample size that Friedman raised). Both Brown and Friedman seemed to really know their stuff.

  • joe

    Andy Beyer says:

    “But now practically every track in America has a trainer or trainers who dramatically improve almost every horse they claim and who post outlandish winning percentages. Bill Mott — maybe the best horseman in America — has never won with more than 25% of his starters in a year, but guys now come out of nowhere to win at a 30 or 40% clip. If the name of the trainer was blacked out in the past performances, you could not handicap intelligently”

    Questions for Mr. Beyer:

    Could you share with us your list of suspicious trainers with high win % during the past two or three years and why?

    Could you name the most suspicious trainers with their owners, vets, jockeys, tracks, rap sheets and names of horses with most spectacular form reversals?

    Is it good business practice to allow suspected seasonal and perennial dopers to own, train, medicate horses and for officials to look the other way to benefit savvy bettors and those with inside information?

    Is racing welcoming miracle trainers to survive?

    Do you believe that all trainers with a 26 + win % and extraordinary high ITM % are juice trainers and dopers?

    Do you believe that RICO applies in some instances?

    Have you ever contemplated going to the FBI?

    If the Feds continue to refuse to investigate the dark and cruel side of the industry, will you publicly disclose your findings to force change?

  • joe

    I agree with Mr. Nack and Mr. Irwin.

    I want to thank Mr. Beyer for bravely, eloquently and repeatedly exposing the often preventable destruction and waste of horses and manipulation of race results because drugs allow unfit, exhausted and infirm horses to appear sound enough to run, claimers to be transformed into graded stakes winners overnight and obvious abuse and cheating is allowed to thrive.

    A few trainers produce stunning form reversals with regularity. The industry refuses to ban cheaters and abusers of horses even though its bad reputation is highly justified and hurting its business. The industry continues to refuse to face its demons much less deal with them. Its poobahs are arrogant, crooked, greedy fat cats. They have zero authority and they don’t care as long as pay and perks abound. Only racing commissions have the authority to mandate reforms but they are too conflicted, under-funded or weak to reform racing in significant ways. Evil continues to spread, quality continues to tank as more depreciated horses are run into the ground without mercy, year around, in particular at racinos. This once proud and princely sport has degenerated into a world full of gyps and powerful drugs and it is now dominated by glorified claiming trainers. Sadly, racing deserves to be considered by the outside world at best as an outmoded entertainment.

    If horse racing wants to survive its enlightened, ethical, compassionate people should leave toxic, lame and crooked racing behind. They should create a private racing league in which sportsmanship, drug-free training and racing, fair competition, genuine race records, compassion, excellent horsemanship, equine welfare and safety and respecting the rule of law would be required, in which transparency re. equine health and welfare would be welcome because it would have nothing to hide and operate with a clean conscience. It would help improve the breed.

  • EUGENE LEVEY

    #1 Barry Irwin got it right

    #2 Garrett Redmond got it right

    #3 Sounds like alot of Jealous people on here

    #4 FYI You dont have to look at or buy Andys Figures

    And low & behold>> its a pleasure to hear hear from MARSHALL CASSIDY from Saratoga (SCHUYLERVILLE)

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