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HRN Original Blog:
Dead Heat Debates

How Good is Honor Code?

honor code
I haven’t been involved in the sport of Thoroughbred racing as long as others have, maybe about a decade, but within that decade there has only been on horse who managed to really excite me from the moment he debuted. That horse was the mighty Curlin. I saw him and fell in love, as did many others. This is not to say I haven’t been a hardcore fan of others, I have been, such as Rachel Alexandra, but before the Kentucky Oaks I wasn’t completely convinced. In a decade of watching races, only Curlin managed to make me giddy with excitement from his maiden. Before and after that time no other horse has come close to demonstrating that “x-factor” quite like him…until yesterday.
 
It was a boggy day, August 31, the track was literally a soup bowl of mud. It was dark and dank, but a spark from an unexpected race would set the world of racing buzzing. In Saratoga’s third race a colt by the name of Honor Code would run a race that would drop the jaws of even the most seasoned and hardened veterans?
 
Word had it the blue blooded son of AP Indy, was working quite impressively in the mornings, but when the gates opened he seemed destined to do anything but live up to that hype. Struggling to get a hold of the slippery surface and overcome the globs of mud being pelted at his face, he dropped nearly 23 lengths out of the race by the time the field ran the first half mile.
 
Coming around the bend one could see the colt was moving better by this time, and was looking like he would finish, mid pack, closing willingly. At the top of the stretch he was maybe 10 lengths behind, too much ground for most, but still he was finishing well enough to  get up for a placing.
 
With a 1/16th of a mile left to run Honor Code wasn’t more than three lengths off the leaders, and with time running out, jockey Johnny Velazquez pointed the colt to an opening on the rail, and like a seasoned pro he exploded through the opening, seized the lead, to win going away by over four lengths.
 
If watching this first time starter overcome a 20 plus length deficit while diving through an small opening on the rail, wasn’t impressive enough, then the time in which it took him to do it will be. Assuming one second equals five lengths, he ran his initial half mile in approximately 50.68 seconds, winning the race in a final time of 1.23.48. His individual time for six furlongs was approximately 1.11.8. This means he ran his final 3/8th of a mile in 32.8 seconds and his final 1/8th in approximately 11.7 seconds. For a two year old to run those kinds of fractions is simply mind boggling, as is the fact he did over a track that looked like a peanut butter soup.
 
I rarely get so excited over a maiden, but his professionalism, his acceleration, and the ease of how he did it was simply amazing. Could he just be a freak in the mud? It’s quite possible. But I for one will not deem him as such quite yet. There seems to be something very special about this colt, and I’m hoping he proves me right, when he runs next, in Champagne.
 
 

 

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Older Comments about How Good is Honor Code?...

H.C. is a Very good Colt,full of promise and potential. Let us not forget that there are others out there with as much promise and potential.Tap it Rich , Noble Moon , Almost Famous and Havana to name a few. I personally have my rooting favorites from the horses mentioned above.They are Famous and Noble Moon. Staying up north though.As much as i am not sure how Havana will run in the Jeuvenile,i was hoping he'd sit back and point for the Remsen.I think at least up to 1 1/8th of a mile,he or Noble Moon would be the dangers due to their early pace. Doubt they would have a sprinter in the race to nag them along the way.
This colt is special. Just watch. Can't wait to see him past 1 mile. Monster.
At the risk of being called a homer .Do not dismiss my man JJ Toners filly. Her name is Recepta.She aired on Sunday and was also geared down in the stretch.She beat a very very highly thought of Shug filly named Premura.I know JJ's filly reall good,i know what they think of her.
Just the stakes races. I'll check out the replay tonight. Feeling kind of excited with all these good two year olds. WIth all this talk about the colts, we might be putting a really good filly in Sweet Reason on the back burner. Now if their fragile bodies can support their abilities, next year could really be a fun year.
Forget horses for a second.The big question of the day is .How many Duracell shares did you purchase today???
Laz, i do not know if you follow the Del Mar races.Remember the horse Lisa told you aboyt yesterday.His name Schoolofhardrocks.She told me to follow this horse 10 days ago.Talk about the eye test.If you have not seen it yet,please go and see the replay.He ran on Saturday race #2.He was incredibly impressive with that burst on the turn.But i laugh again.I heard fro some that it was the carpet that moved him up.My response.Who cares $23 dollars to win.
He also ran the first 6F in this race in 1.09 and change, the same as he did in his last on a fast track. I still don't want to seem like I don't respect Honor Code. His move was brilliant. Hopefully both will stretch out to 10F eventually.
At this stage of the 2yo season,the number 1 thing that these 2 year olds must pass is the old EYE TEST.There will be the detractors ,who after the fact will make excuses about the quality of the field.If this horse did not pass everyones eye test yesterday.The only thing i can say is that they have extremely high standrds.Like i told a friend who used the mud as the Major move up.What does it matter,would you rather he won by 2 lengths.We will not know how he or Shugs horse came out of their races until they run again.This race is now in the history books.I like you laugh when i hear people try to take away from the performance.Repeating,the old EYE TEST was magnificent.
TM, 4 lengths translates to 8 points and 5 lengths to 11 points in a 7F race. If you go to the Watchmaker site and raise the PPs’ for two year old males and fillies, you will see that the variant applied in the Strong Mandate race was 14, for Honor Code it was 12 and for Sweet Reason, who as he said might be a freakish filly, it was a whopping 23. I have never bet a horse based on a Beyer number and I never intend to. Like I’ve said in the past, to me they just supply some sort of historical significance in how well, dominant or fast a horse ran a race. I always consider class as the number one consideration in order of importance and though I do look at final closing fractions, I also make it a point to read between the lines and speculate whether a horse was geared down, or wasn’t all out at the finish. I agree with Dani in that Beyers often don’t make a lot of sense. They can also at times be very misleading; One thing I do like about them is they often help in judging a horse’s form cycle which can be determined by the Beyer pattern, whether it is increasing for several races in a row or decreasing. As for Strong Mandate, I fell like you did that he had a lot left in the tank and why he impressed me so much is that he was so close to a very demanding pace being set by a speed freakish type. The finishing fraction was slow because he was almost loafing in the final 16th. It looks like that showdown in the Champaign isn’t going to materialize as Lukas is looking at shipping west.
Laz, i would not put any credence into that Beyer figure.I would not even pay attention to the final time.The jock geared this horse down before he hit th 1/16 th pole.What makes this race even more impressive.He was 1 length off of Corfu at the half mile pole in a wicked.45 flat.Granted Corfu is not a distance horse,but up to 6 furlongs he is as swift as they come.If SM ran the race circling the field from out of the clouds,someone could use the blistering pace as an excuse.He was part of the pace and drew off in a hand ride.To be honest,i was more impressed watching the replay than i was live.By gearing him down,did he lose 4 or 5 lengths.From what i am told by friends .That translates to anywhere from 12-15 pts.S o if pushed ,he might of run 100 FIGURE.Also note he was about 4 paths off the rail(ground loss should also be credited).The rail yesterday was excellent.For proof,refer to the 6th race baby race when javie speed popped and wired the field.
That should be two year old filly.
Mike Watchmaker has the PP’s for the top four rated horses up on the DRF site. Strong Mandate’s track was muddy-sealed, while both Honor Code and Sweet Reason were listed as sloppy-sealed. From what I can make out, the normal par for a three year old filly running 7F at Saratoga on a fast track is 1.23 and Sweet Reason ran very close to that time. For colts the time should be about 1.22.2/5. I don’t follow the Ragozin sheets, but the rating for Honor Code for his final splits must be out of this world.
There was not a lot to compare his to, distance wise. I really do not see there could have been that much difference from day to day, other than the fact he ran his race over a track termed as muddy and not sloppy. However, it still held a lot of moisture, and it is hard to tell if the track slowed or sped up. Sometimes a track that is drying out becomes looser and more tiring. But again, do see how he justifies this weekend's numbers, other than saying the 7f on Sunday were much slower than that on Sat. despite the fact those races were run by a class that would appear much lower than this class of juveniles.
I see where Strong Mandate’s Beyer was only 85. His 7F time was 1.23.55.
It would make more sense. Because as i noted the quality of horses running on Sat, going 7f was better than that of what was running sunday, outside of the spinaway. the other 7f races were claimers, they are supposed to be slower. On Sat they were MSW and a grade one. The simple point is, the difference makes no sense.
The track variant is apparently supplied by the DRF. I know that the 7F races were basically claimers, but they were still slow, especially the 9th a MSW in 1.27.75. The other dirt races were also taken into account even though they were at different distances. A 6F AOC on Sunday was run in 1.11.63. Normally a race of that quality should have been run in about 1.10.2. The race immediately after Sweet Reason’s, the optional claimer won by Abraham, was slow also. Keeping in mind that Sweet Reason’s race was a G1, and that her time was decidedly better overall than every other dirt race, that is the only logical reason I can see for the 98 Beyer. It might make more sense if we had the pars they are using and what variant they are using.
Differences is the 7f races run on Sat were by claimers, while the other 7f races on the 31st were MSW and a grade one. Class has to be taken into account, and one would think it is, especially when looking and comparing final times. How else does one determine the track condition? Isn't the final time used to point out if a surface is playing absurdly fast, the excuse of "claimers were breaking 1.09 for 6f." Obviously class is taken into account on those days, so why not yesterday, when the other comparable races were claimers.
It's hard to accept sometime, but it was on a different day. Sweet Reason’s time of 1.23.42, though slow, was actually not bad when comparing it to the other 7F races run in 1.25.85; 1.25.41; and 1.27.75. It’s interesting to see what Strong Mandate gets. Probably in the mid 90’s at best.
Sweet Reason gets a 98 figure for running .04 seconds faster than Honor Code, on a track that was in the same condtion as the one he ran on, just one day earlier....that makes a lot of sense.
Dani, believe me, I’m not saying that Beyers are the be-all and end-all. In fact, I have never bet a horse based on a Beyer number. To me they just add some historical type significance in how well or dominant or how fast a horse ran its race. As you know, Beyers are essentially pars and you know that pars are essentially the average running time a race is run at a certain distance on a fast surface over a given period of time at a particular track, these times probably compiled during a calendar year. These pars have been compiled for every distance, every class from cheap claimer to G1, for sex and age. Then unusual circumstances must be taken into consider and the track variant (I believe supplied by the DRF) is applied. This variant takes into consideration how fast other races on dirt were run on the track in the same day to give an over-all perspective. Additional factors might also taken into consideration with the idea being an equalization process in the races run, given the distance, the class of horse and the track where it ran. Splits have never been nor are they intended to be taken into consideration. You will see them in the Ragozin or split numbers, but not Beyers. A quote from Beyer himself from his book, Beyer on Speed. “Beyer numbers simply combine a speed rating and track variant and express how fast a horse ran in past races. Period.”…..Like you, I often scratch my head when a horse is assigned a particular number for a race, be it either high or low. I really questioned Quality Road’s 121 Beyer in the Donn run in 1.47.49, when in his next race, the Met Mile run in 1.33.11, he received only a 112. Then I looked at the card and saw why. On the day that the Donn was run another 9F race went in 1.53.18 and two one mile races were in 1.38.44 and 1.38.51. When the Met was run the track was playing much faster and though there weren’t many races on dirt that day, in addition to Quality Road’s Met there was a 8.5F race in 1.41.17 and a 7F race in 1.21.75; and a lower variant was applied. To me this justifies, at least as far as Beyer numbers are concerned, the 121 and the 112 numbers given. In 1997 Will’s Way won his Whitney in 1.48.20 and received a 126 Beyer. Compare that to Cross Traffic’s Whitney this year in 1.47.89 and is 108 Beyer, 18 points less when his race was actually faster. This seems unheard of given todays numbers, but on that day of Will’s Way’s Whitney the track was rated fast but was extremely slow with two other 9F races run in 1.54 and 1.54.22. Once again, the number seemed justified……As for horses back in the day running today, for the most part I don’t think that their times would be much different than now, at least not for the faster races. The slower races would probably be run faster because the tracks are faster, but genetically speaking, the fastest horse can only run so fast and is possibly at its absolute limit, but the slower horses still that have the possibility of improving their speed (JMO). So in the end, even though Honor Code ran a visually impressive race with rarely seen middle fractions, he still ran the race in a relatively slow time and that’s why the 89 Beyer was assigned.

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Meet Laura Pugh












 

For as long as i can remember I have always loved horses and writing. The first race I ever watched was War Emblem's Preakness Stakes, but I didn't really start to get into racing until the next year where watched and cheered Empire Maker through the Derby, and yes, the Belmont.

I didn't begin writing until a few years later, when I created my own blog Horsin' Around. It didn't take long for me to realize that my niche was stirring the pot and creating heated debates, especially during the time of Big Brown vs Curlin and Rachel Alexandra vs Zenyatta. I was a Curlin and Rachel fan.

Now I am here under the name of Dead Heat Debates, and hoping to live up to that name. Have fun and let the opinions fly!