• The week’s highest Beyer speed figures in North America
Nothing short of an extraordinary weekend on the Beyer front with Baby Yoda and Flightline both recording a BSF of 114 – the highest figure since July 2019 – plus the top two-year-old figure of 2021.
Incredibly, despite plenty of G1 action on both coasts, all these stellar numbers came in relatively minor company well beneath graded stakes – though presumably it won’t be long before the horses concerned are given their cue in that sort of arena.
114 Baby Yoda
Saratoga (Sept 4): allowance $103,000, 6½f, dirt 3yo+
Trainer: Bill Mott
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Owner: Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Jerold Zaro
Pedigree: 3 b/br g Prospective – More Than Speed (More Than Ready)
Baby Yoda’s figure on Saturday at Saratoga in an allowance race on the Jockey Club Gold Cup undercard was so astonishing that Andy Beyer himself was moved to explain it in the pages of the Daily Racing Form.
The originator of the famous speed figures said Baby Yoda’s 114 was the “fastest in the US since the sprinter Shancelot recorded a figure of 121 at Saratoga in July 2019”.
It is easy to see why Beyer weighed in. On the face of it, Baby Yoda’s BSF looks outrageous given that barely three months ago the gelding made his debut in a $10,000 maiden claimer at Pimlico for a BSF of just 69 – and was promptly beaten next time up at the same venue.
Best Beyers of 2021 ▼
Having regained the winning thread on his first outing at Saratoga, he dominated Saturday’s race, pressing the pace before being hitting the front two out and then powering away for a 4¼-length victory over well-regarded stablemate Olympiad.
Final time, after splits of 21.54s and 44.08s, was a brutal 1m14.33s. “I was pretty amazed, really,” said trainer Bill Mott. “I was pretty impressed with his effort. I can honestly say, I didn’t expect that, but I was pleased to see it. It was exciting, actually, because I thought there was a pretty good horse in there that he beat that ran second.”
Beyer says there was nothing wrong with the teletimer, nothing phoney about the number. “Based on Saturday’s evidence, Baby Yoda may indeed be America’s champion sprinter,” he added.
Del Mar (Sept 5): allowance optional claimer $94,000, 6f, dirt 3yo+
Trainer: John Sadler
Jockey: Flavien Prat
Owner: Hronis Racing etc
Pedigree: 3 bc Tapit – Feathered (Indian Charlie)
Then came Flightline at Del Mar on Sunday. Maybe not quite as astonishing as Baby Yoda, inasmuch as his 13¼-length winning debut in April for a BSF of 105 had marked him out as potentially top class, but still this was quite some performance from an inexperienced horse as he came home 12¾ lengths ahead.
Not many win their first two races by a combined margin in excess of 26 lengths and Flightline’s final time for the 6f was less than a half-second off a 47-year-old track record of 1m07.60s set by King Of Cricket. Who knows what he might have done if he’d been popped any sort of question by Flavien Prat?
The $1m son of Tapit will be stepped up in grade sooner rather than later, with maybe even the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on November 6 at the same venue a possibility. More probable, though, is the G1 Malibu against fellow three-year-olds at Santa Anita on December 26.
“He’s a rare, gifted horse,” said trainer John Sadler. “Everybody was just full of joy – as much as we were expecting after his first start he went out and pretty much surpassed them.”
• Bob Baffert-trained Corniche recorded a BSF of 98 in a maiden special weight at Del Mar on Saturday [Sept 4]. Sent off 1-2 favourite for the 5½f contest, the son of Quality Road duelled briefly before establishing command under Mike Smith and drawing away in the stretch to score by 4½ lengths.
• More US racing coverage at drf.com