McCraken is a contender in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Photo by ACS Photography

The highest Beyer speed figure ever given out on a route race was in 2004. It just so happens that bit of history, trivia and history may play a factor in this year’s Kentucky Derby.


Well, let me describe.

In 2004, Monmouth Park played host to its annual signature race – the Philip H. Iselin Stakes, which was first run in 1884. In New Jersey, the Iselin is about as important as the Kentucky Derby is to us – and the rest of the racing world.

It turns out that rains had dumped a ton of water on the track, turning it muddy – much like Churchill Downs will be today. But it didn’t bother one horse – Ghostzppaer.

The big, beautiful racing machine ran over the 11/8-mile muddy track like a rocket – winning the stakes by a whopping 10 ¾ lengths. That margin of victory remains as the biggest in the history of the race.

Afterwards, the Beyer Figures installed Ghostzapper with a 128 number. Still, to this day, it’s the biggest Beyer ever given in a route race.

So how does this impact the Derby – some 13 years later?

Well, it’s a muddy track today, too.

And, Ghostzapper just so happens to be the sire of whom?

McCracken. Go figure. And, go figures…