After a dominating 4 3/4 length romp in the Champagne Stakes, I was sure Uncle Mo had not only matched his Saratoga maiden route, but exceeded it. The speedy son of Indian Charlie proved that the extra quarter mile was no problem for him as he stretched out from six furlongs to a flat mile on only his second career start.
The colt was pressured right from the gate by that "pesky," as Tom Durkin called it, I'm Steppin Up. After a sizzling opening quarter in 22.41 and a stiff half mile in 45.92 it was clear that if Uncle Mo were to win the Champagne he would really have to be something special. Around the far turn they came, and Mountain Town began to mount a menacing rally around the far turn. At the head of the stretch, it looked as though Mo wouldn't be in for another easy win.
It was just then, when it looked like the talented colt would not find more, that he spurted clear with an amazing turn of foot and bounded to the wire much the best. His final time of 1.34.51 was the second fastest of the meet so far, only .09 seconds off what Tizway had run six days earlier in the Kelso. His time for the final quarter was one second better than what AZ Warrior turned in for her effort in the Frizette and .7 seconds better than Tizway's final quarter in the Kelso. Add in that his final time was the second fastest in the history of the Champagne, and you have a monster performance that would surely garner a monster speed figure.
The next day the speed figures were released and soon many were baffled by the respectable, but not stellar 94 BFS Uncle Mo received. I checked everything I could on the track -- Belmont was not playing overly fast that Saturday or in the days leading up to the Champagne. During that race week, from Wednesday to Friday the final times for a mile around Belmont were all around the 1.37-1.38 range, one even was a 1.39. Yes, all of these were claiming races, maidens and AOC's. Saturday the only other race ran over a mile was the Frizette, which was run in 1.35.68. How is it that when the track was playing average and Uncle Mo made it look like a freeway did he only receive a 94 BFS?
I asked Youbet's Derek Simon his opinion on the matter and how he felt. Rather than try to rephrase what he said and confuse you all I'll give you his response.
Derek Simon's Response on the Frizette and Champagne BFS:
"For better or for worse, part of what Beyer and his associates attempt to do with their speed figures is have them make sense. Mathematically speaking, its almost like an unstructured form of linear regression, whereby disparate data points, i.e. individual speed figures, are smoothed out. This in my opinion makes the figure more reliable overall, but less reliable in specific instances.
Saturday's Belmont card was one of those "specific instances," I'm afraid. To begin there were only two dirt route races to consider on Saturday: The Champagne and the Frizette, both for two year olds -an age that often produces overnight improvement. However here's (I think) what the Beyer folk are thinking:
A Z Warrior (77 previous Beyer high)
*R Heat Lightning (76)
Joyful Victory (77)
Uncle Mo (102)
*Mountain Town (61)
I'm Stepin' Up (74)
*Key horses in my opinion. R Heat Lightning recorded Beyers of 76, 76, 74 in her three lifetime starts, making her Frizette number a benchmark of sorts, while Mountain Town's BFS was so poor that, should he finish well, which he did, it casts doubt (rightly or wrongly) on the quality of the race.
Now, the spread of 13 points between the two races is a constant based on the race times, so if Beyer gives Uncle Mo, say a 102 again, that means A Z Warrior gets an 89 and R Heat Lightning gets and 86 -significantly better than anything she's earned before. That with what would amount to a 93 figure for Mountain Town, is why I believe the race was deemed to be slower.
Is this fair, or more importantly, accurate? I'm not sure, but I'm leaning to "no" on both accounts. I say that because my figures generally show improvement on the part all top finishers. And Dani's theory of a deep Saratoga track, inflating final times of certain horses on certain days is making more and more sense. For example, R Heat Lightning recorded a respectable -8 LRS in the Frizette, after garnering a woeful -24 LRS in the Spinaway, run at Saratoga. Surely the leaders stopping to a craw in that race contributed to a final 76 BFS."
Basically what I got out of that was that Beyer is trying to twist these latest figures, to make his earlier ones look more accurate, which in my opinion is not right. As Derek pointed out 2 year olds can improve overnight. Who is to say that Mountain Town who ran a low 61, could not have show that same improvement in this start? A Z Warrior, being a 2 year old is not only eligible to improve, but also was coming off synthetics, was eligible to jump up when transferring to dirt. R Heat Lightning, if my theory on Saratoga is correct, was bound to run better over a track that was not as deep or tiring.
So, Was Uncle Mo's BFS too low? I think yes, and that it should've been in the 102-105 range. But that is just me. What are your thoughts?