Joe and Brian Answer Your Facebook Questions - Vol. 5

By Joe Kristufek and Brian W. Spencer
Every Monday on the Arlington Park Facebook page at www.facebook.com/arlingtonpark, Daily Herald and Arlington Park handicapper Joe Kristufek and horseplayerNOW.com's Brian W. Spencer field questions in the morning, and provide answers in the evening. No matter how simple or how advanced, every question is a good question. Joe and Brian are available every Monday to answer anything you've ever wanted to know about horse racing.

Every other week, we'll reprint some of the best questions here in the Daily Racing Guide and on the Arlington Park website. Log on to facebook.com/arlingtonpark, ask your question and come back to the track to see if it wound up in the program!

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After a horse runs in a race, then has a couple of workouts, what is the best thing to look for? - Bradford P.

Brian W. Spencer: You've somewhat already alluded to what I'd be looking for. If a horse runs a race and then is entered back a few weeks later, I'm interested in seeing that he or she has a work or two in between races. That tells me that the runner came out of the race no worse for wear and bounced right back into regular training. What's more concerning in that situation is if the horse doesn't show a work in between regularly spaced starts. While there are some exceptions, generally I'm a big fan of seeing at least one work since the last race, and as more time passes between starts that becomes even more important. It doesn't have to be a bullet work by any stretch, but just something to show me that the horse came out of its last race well enough to go right back to the track a week later or so.

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Also, do the Beyers mean different things based on surface? For example, an 80 on Poly versus an 80 on turf versus an 80 on dirt. All the same speed? - Chris S.

Joe Kristufek: As described by Daily Racing Form, "The Beyer Speed Figures are a numerical representation of a horse's performance, based on the final time and the inherent speed over the track on which the race was run. The higher the Beyer Speed Figure, the better the performance. Beyer Speed Figures are interchangeable from track to track and from distance to distance. So, a horse who is stepping up in class but has been posting recent Beyer Speed Figures in the 90s may in reality be simply faster than a horse dropping out of seemingly better races, but who has been posting Beyer Speed Figures in the 80s."  When using any speed figure as a point of comparison, you must zero in on the numbers that are relevant for today's race. The 80 earned in a dirt sprint is not nearly as relevant if today's race is being run over 9 furlongs of turf. Our Daily Racing Guide at Arlington uses an alternate set of figures Equibase Speed Figures that seek to accomplish the same thing.

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With the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In!" series having starting - and at AP - how would you rate Chamberlain Bridge's chances if he makes it to the BC Turf Sprint? I think it's a "more fair" to have the Turf Sprint on a flat one-turn, than down a mountain-side course. - Mark L.

Brian W. Spencer: I really like Chamberlain Bridge's chances if he heads into the BC Turf Sprint in good order. While I, like you, really enjoy Santa Anita's downhill turf sprints, it's a very specialized distance and course, and not all turf sprinters thrive there. Add to that the fact that most runners who shipped out there for that race in the last two years had been running shorter sprint races around the country (5 or 5.5 furlongs is the configuration most tracks can handle), it was much more difficult for those runners to negotiate that course -- illustrated by the fact that locals won each of the first two runnings of the race - horses for the course type runners. Chamberlain Bridge would be suspect to be competitive at such a distance, but he's a huge threat at Churchill if that's the route they take with him. That said, there are some very, very good turf sprinters around the country, and he'll have to run a huge race to beat the likes of a horse like Mr. Gruff if those connections decide to pursue that route as well. That said it's always great to see a horse that's run locally get the job done on the big day like we saw over and over last year with Informed Decision and She Be Wild.

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Hey I have been noticing trainers are running 3-year-olds against older horses before August. I seems like the 3-year-olds lose a lot of those races. Is there a stat for this or is it just an anomaly that I am seeing.  - Don J.

Brian W. Spencer: That's an excellent question, as the frequency at which it's happening here this summer seems to have increased. Some of these runners may be put in spots against older horses earlier than their trainer may have liked just based on which races fill and which races don't, and they decide to just get a race into their horse either way. I don't have any hard and fast stats on how many 3yo runners find success against older early in the summer, but in general it's a concern, especially if they're doing it for the first time. As the meet goes on, it may not be as big of a deal as we approach August and September, but that's an advantage for you if you're handicapping -- often times those horses should be viewed with a critical eye, and you seem keyed in to that already, which is an excellent start.