This one is about Beyer numbers, the obviously important Racing Form postings that say: Bet Me.
Here’s the catch. Sometimes, oftentimes, most times, lower Beyer numbers beat higher Beyer numbers.
Why would Beyer even publish numbers?
One, he had all the money he needed. Two, he enjoys glory. Three, the numbers are best advantaged by the super-creative.
How could a big, fat end-game number, based on a bunch of little numbers, turn out to be subjective? Such are the vagaries and mysteries and trickeries of sport. It’s like the numbers in “Moneyball” meaning different things to different people: It’s on-base percentages meaning as much as circuit clouts, and costing a lot less.
When it comes to a Beyer speed rating, every handicapper starts with the same number.
When it comes to sports wagering, numbers get illusionary fast.
A Beyer number is an extension of an elementary speed rating — a percentage of a track record, biases and human elements. The Beyer number is brightly adjusted to create something like the perfect heavenly racetrack, seasonally and hourly adjusted for bias, to put all the horses on a computer screen, so to speak, to put a single number, a solitary value, on everything from a four furlong race in the sticks to a route in New York or California.
It’s a system.
A system number named for a person, like a Beyer or a Mulligan, is a strong endorsement of worth.
But no horse race system can pick a winner. Can it?
No sport has more luck in the mix than horse racing, particularly the contemporary Kentucky Derby, whose start looks more like a destruction derby than something classic. Nothing can dilute breeding or a Beyer number more quickly than a 20-horse field.
Some Beyer numbers are obviously inflated. Take this last weekend’s San Vicente Stakes. When you come across a field so short as to have no show wagering, subtract ten Beyer points.
Many Beyer numbers are self-explanatory. As is the case with football, you can take a look at the key match-ups and correctly guess what the Super Bowl point spread will be. Great running lines and fast easy victories equal high Beyer numbers.
Older horses trade Beyer numbers and victories like yawns, 90 this week and a win, 80 in three weeks and an average fifth against similar company, somebody please pass the carrots.
However, Beyer numbers have a way with three-year olds. Sometimes nothing highlights improvement quite as well.
It happens every spring, when you’ll take a Beyer line of 80 and 90 in a horse’s last two, over one that just hung up a couple of 95′s.
It is a little deflating to conclude that a Beyer number is more like a starting point than an end-all.
Originally Posted on ESPN