Craig Milkowski, our Chief Figure Guy, appears on TVG each Wednesday afternoon (check his Twitter feed for the exact time, generally somewhere in the noon to 1PM vicinity in the east. Also, his Twitter feed is excellent for: quickie speed figures on stakes days, Oklahoma City-centric observations on the NBA, and consternation as to why the track announcer at The Meadows is yelling at him). At that time, he discusses some of the stakes races from the prior weekend with the hosts on duty at the time.
Yesterday, it was Matt Carothers and Greg Wolf, and they led off with the Donn. Craig revealed that he had assigned Lea a TFUS speed figure of 118 for his victorious effort. That’s a solid figure to be sure, but a rather modest progression from the 114 he earned in the Hal’s Hope. It’s a point better than his previous TimeformUS speed fig top, which was earned on grass. This led Carothers to point out that Beyer gave Lea a figure of 114. That’s effectively a much higher number given the differences in scale between our figures and Beyer’s, and an astronomical leap from anything he’d run before–Lea’s prior best Beyer figure was a 101, his only previous triple digit number. With their longtime familiarity with Beyer, we can see how the TVG hosts wanted to bring it up, and we kicked it around the New York office a bit after the segment ended.
It’s going to be an interesting figure to follow in the future, for any number of reasons.
The fact is, the figure-making methodologies are different, and not only because of the fact that we include pace into the calculations. Figure making is an art as much as a science, and different guys can surely have a different take on a specific race, or day of races. That is nothing new. And it’s especially so for a race such as the Donn. It was the only two-turn dirt race of the day, so there is no supporting data with which to make a track variant for that distance. As we pointed out the other day – and as Craig rallied to point out on TVG – the track was sealed during the intervening time between the Donn and the prior dirt race, and there was a light rain falling. So it’s entirely possible that it was a quicker surface when it was harrowed out. That’s the way that we looked at it; can’t speak for the other guys.
Only time will tell who is “right” about the Donn, and just maybe there will be no solid conclusion and proponents of each figure will simply continue to disagree. Such differences of opinion are what this game is all about, and it’s a particularly common outcome when it comes to disagreements about the speed of a race. However, one thing I will say decisively: In this particular case, you had a better chance of coming up with Lea using our speed figures than with theirs.