Sports Betting

A Beyer in the low 90s wins Risen Star at Fair Grounds

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February 20, 2016

That was a strong Presidents Day weekend for 3-year-olds moving up the Beyer Speed Figure scale. Nyquist could not get a 90 as a 2-year-old. The unbeaten champ blew right past the 90s with a 100 Beyer when he won the San Vicente Stakes in an extremely impressive performance. Suddenbreakingnews came from absolutely nowhere in the Southwest Stakes to win and get a 93 Beyer, a 16-point improvement over his previous best. Sam F. Davis Stakes winner Destin also got a career-best Beyer with a 91.

Given what we just experienced, and knowing that 3-year-olds can improve dramatically at any time, I am thinking it is going to take a Beyer in the low 90s to win the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, where the major action is Saturday. None of the Risen Star horses has hit 90 yet, but several, including Mo Tom, are on the upswing. Mo Tom has five consecutive ascending Beyers, including an 88 when he won the Lecomte Stakes, a race that already looks better after fourth-place finisher Destin went to Tampa Bay Downs and improved his Beyer by 11 points.

The second and third finishers from the Lecomte, Tom’s Ready and Uncle Walter, also are back. Either would have to get a career-best Beyer to win. Airoforce is the most intriguing horse in the race. A neck loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf from being unbeaten, Airoforce translated his grass form into a powerful win on dirt in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, a key race that included Mor Spirit and Mo Tom, horses who won three stakes in their next three starts while improving their Beyers each time. So, I certainly expect Airoforce to go better than the 87 he got in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.

The Rachel Alexandra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies does not have the upside talent of the Risen Star but does have an “omni figs’’ horse, a New Orleans version of Songbird without the eye-opening Beyers. Stageplay has never come back to the 88 Beyer she got in her October debut, but even her lower 80s have been good enough to win two stakes and finish second in another. Regardless, each of her four Beyers is better than any Beyer in the rest of the field, thus the omni figs.

The Mineshaft Handicap features another horse coming off a career-best Beyer in Fair Grounds killer International Star, unbeaten in four starts there, including a sweep of the 2015 Kentucky Derby preps, when he put up an 89, 92, 96 series. He missed the Derby, came back with a poor effort in November in the Zia Park Derby, and then got a 100 in winning a small stakes race at Fair Grounds a month ago. I am thinking International Star is sitting on another triple-digit Beyer at his favorite track. Point Piper has run against California Chrome and Dortmund without being embarrassed while earning Beyers mostly in the mid-90s, with a 102 when second to Dortmund. He finished 4 1/2 lengths behind third-place Hoppertunity in the San Pasqual Stakes, won by California Chrome. Hoppertunity came right back to win, so Point Piper is not without a chance if International Star does not come back to his best.

Chocolate Ride looks like he should be lone speed in the Fair Grounds Handicap. Even if he gets outrun for the front, he is a two-way horse who has proved that he can win from off the pace. In his five races over the last year, Chocolate Ride has a terrific 102, 100, 91, 99, 96 series. Just about any of those Beyers would be good enough to beat a solid but not overwhelming field. I am an absolute sucker for horses like String King. The 8-year-old has 14 wins and seven seconds in 29 grass races. There certainly is a chance that the 8-year-old has lost a step. In fact, his 88 Beyers in his last two races suggest that, but it won’t stop me from rooting if Chocolate Ride does not fire.



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