Lately I've been re-reading some of my old American Turf Monthly rags. There's some good stuff to be found and of course some not so good but I applaud their eclectic editorial policy anyway. Class comes up a lot. A definition of class - it's been debated since the 1700s - has not been decided upon as of yet, not one that we can all agree on.
Paul Kania's tagline to his article in the September '97 edition Class Encounters of the Worst Kind declares that Speed figures alone can't explain that mysterious quality called class. He goes on to say that the speed figure guys - he mentions Beyer - think they've figured out the class problem once and for all. Speed is class and class is speed and par charts prove it, they say. Then he asked the question, "If, indeed, speed is class, why do so many horses stepping up in class seem to suffer spontaneous equine combustion?" This is where I must enter the fray.
The answer to his question is pace ability. Mr. Kania gave two examples of the up in class to failure scenario and both horses had sub-par pace ability in the Slow 4 area. He didn't mention it. Even though their speed figures indicated a move up in class should be no problem, there was no such indication in the pace ability department, which resulted in spontaneous equine combustion.
As I have stated before, every class level is littered with the carcasses of horses that can't measure up in pace ability. The best horses can set or overcome a fast pace and continue on to earn speed figures above par....that's class.Handicappers shouldn't be fooled anymore. Believers in the inherent mysterious class definition will disagree with me. The speed figure guys - Beyer, Sheets, Thorograph - will as well. Good. I like overlays.....and I don't like being fooled.