Why Bayern Should Run in the Classic & Other BC Musings

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Derek Simon

October 3rd, 2014

So what did we learn from “Super Saturday,” last weekend’s bevy of prep races for the premier showcase of equine talent in America — the Breeders’ Cup? Several things, I think:

1) Stephanie’s Kitten is the top older turf filly or mare in the country (which isn’t saying much).

2) Private Zone is as game as they get… but there’s no way the BC Sprint will feature a -4 early speed ration (ESR) like the Vosburgh did.

3) Tonalist did not take the coward’s way out by running in a Grade II event against horses his own age (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Instead, he faced the top older steeds in the East in the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) and proved, once again, that he is one of the top thoroughbreds in training.

4) Based on what I saw in the Pennsylvania Derby, Bayern’s best chance for BC glory is in the Classic, not the Dirt Mile, as I suspect many believe.

Yeah, yeah, I know: On the surface, that last observation seems crazy. Bayern has raced beyond nine furlongs twice — and both times it went about as well as Christian Ponder’s start against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

But here’s the thing: I just don’t think Bayern is quick enough to get loose on the lead in the Dirt Mile and he’s proven — at least to me — that, if he’s pressured early, he fades like the Oakland A’s in September.

Now, consider this: Since 1997, the average ESR in the Dirt Mile is -10.2 (discounting the renewals over Santa Anita’s old Pro-Ride surface); the average ESR in the Classic (on dirt) is -6.4 — much less demanding (the higher the ESR, the less energy expended).

Bayern’s best (lowest) ESR ever was a -9 in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs and he’s 0-for-2 in races featuring an ESR of less than -6. Given that his main pace rival in the Classic is likely to be Moreno, who recorded a -5 ESR in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it’s reasonable to assume that the Classic pace will be a whole lot less taxing than that of the Dirt Mile, which is likely to include speedsters like defending champ Goldencents (-14 ESR last year), Private Zone and Bradester.

Furthermore, from a breeding standpoint, I see no reason why Bayern can’t “get” the 1 ¼ miles of the Classic (as I noted on my latest podcast, any horse can run any distance… it’s just a matter of how fast).



Breeders’ Cup Classic Pars (since 1997)

Days since last race: 28
Avg. last-race finish: 2nd
Winners favored in last race: 71.4%

Avg. pace: -6.4 ESR
Avg. winning ESR: -1.6
Avg. winning LSR: -2.9
Avg. Brisnet speed figure: 107

Median ESR (on Pace Profile Report prior to race): -2.1
Median LSR (on Pace Profile Report prior to race): -7.3

Wise Dan Heads Competitive Shadwell Turf Mile

In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789, Ben Franklin noted that “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

It’s too bad Franklin didn’t live long enough to see two-time BC Mile winner Wise Dan compete, as he might have been able to add to his list of certainties. Wise Dan last tasted defeat at a mile on the grass in — ready for this? — 2011, when he was still “learning Dan.”

Now seven years old, Wise Dan is odds-on to be odds-on for the 11th consecutive time when he faces seven rivals in the Shadwell Turf Mile on Saturday at Keeneland.

Interestingly, of Wise Dan’s last three losses, two have come in this very race (the aforementioned 2011 defeat at the hands of Gio Ponti and last year when the race came off the turf and Silver Max won).


Early Speed Ration (ESR): A measurement of a horse’s early energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The lower the figure, the greater the horse’s early exertion in that event.

-15= Demanding.
-10= Brisk.
  -5= Moderate.
   0= Soft.

Tip(s): Animals that combine low ESRs with high speed figures are often prime candidates to win in wire-to-wire fashion. So too are those steeds with a significant overall ESR advantage.

Late Speed Ration (LSR): A measurement of a horse’s late energy expenditure in relation to the total race requirements. The higher the figure, the greater the horse’s late exertion in that event.

   0= Excellent.
  -5= Good.
-10= Fair.
-15= Poor.

Tip(s): Because late speed is measured at a time that each horse is being asked for his/her maximum effort, LSRs can be a great indication of form as well. Young horses with improving Late Speed Rations are often superior to older, more experienced rivals with established figures. Furthermore, any animal that combines a positive Pace Profile with high relative LSRs and good speed figures must be given strong consideration. Entrants that show positive LSRs or those coming off of a big win punctuated by a superior LSR are especially strong contenders.

The Late Speed Rations are also very effective in a negative context as well. Horses with consistently poor figures in relation to the rest of the field make notoriously poor favorites and can often lead to great overlays on other, less fancied runners.

Pace Profile: A simple comparison between a horse’s Late Speed Ration and the Early Speed Ration of the race in which it was earned. A positive (+) profile is greatly desired and serves to authenticate especially impressive LSRs. The Pace Profile is an easy, yet crucial means of relating early speed to late speed.

Tip(s): The Pace Profile of a particular race can be especially useful when horses are switching distances/surfaces. For example, an animal that has been competing in dirt sprints might be given extra consideration in a turf route if he/she shows a string of positive (+) Pace Profiles, as distance races on the lawn tend to emphasize late speed.

For more information on ESRs, LSRs and pace handicapping in general, please visit my Web site at