Champions Nyquist, Songbird top 2015 Experimental Free Handicap
Edited Press Release
Nyquist, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), has been assigned the high weight of 126 pounds to top The Jockey Club’s 2015 Experimental Free Handicap.
Songbird, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), was the highest weighted filly and the second highest weighted Thoroughbred of all eligible two-year-olds at 125 pounds.
The Jockey Club Experimental Free Handicap, published annually since 1935, is a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading two-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles.
This year’s list of eligible horses to be weighted included all two-year-olds of 2015 that started in graded or listed stakes races run in the United States and, for the first time, in Canada.
Out of the eligible 244 males and 221 fillies, a total of 113 males and 105 fillies were assigned weights. Adding the Canadian races increased the total number of eligible two-year-olds by 33 fillies and 29 males, including 15 weighted fillies and 10 weighted males.
“We are very pleased to include horses from Canadian races in the Experimental Free Handicap for the first time in its history, and we are grateful to The Jockey Club of Canada and Woodbine Entertainment Group for their enthusiastic assistance,” said James L. Gagliano, president and COO of The Jockey Club. “In previous years, the only Canadian horses to be considered for the Experimental Free Handicap were those that had competed in a graded or listed stakes race in the U.S.”
All Experimental Free Handicap weight assignments, as well as past performances for those horses, are available within the Resources section of jockeyclub.com.
Nyquist, by Uncle Mo out of the Forestry mare Seeking Gabrielle, won all five of his starts in 2015. In addition to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he also won two other Grade 1 races, the FrontRunner Stakes and the Del Mar Futurity. He was the Eclipse Award 2015 champion two-year-old male.
Songbird, by Medaglia d’Oro out of Ivanavinalot, by West Acre, is the second filly since First Flight (126) in 1946 to be weighted higher than 124 pounds. The other is Countess Diana (125) in 1997. Songbird won all four of her 2015 starts, including the Chandelier Stakes (G1) and the Del Mar Debutante (G1). She was the Eclipse Award 2015 champion two-year-old filly.
Kentucky was the foaling state for Nyquist and Songbird and, once again, was the leading foaling state of all weighted horses with 72 males and 66 fillies; Florida was second with 10 males and five fillies. Ireland led foaling countries outside of North America with four fillies and two males.
Uncle Mo was the leading sire of weighted horses with five fillies and five males. Tied for second with eight total were Scat Daddy and Tapit.
The weighting committee of racing secretaries included five this year: P.J. Campo of the Stronach Group; Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland; Steve Lym of Woodbine Entertainment; Martin Panza of The New York Racing Association Inc.;, and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.
Following are a few facts about the Experimental Free Handicap:
- •The Experimental Handicap started in 1933 in the U.S. as a variation of England’s Free Handicap. There was no Experimental compiled in 1934.
- •Today a mythical race designed to gauge the ability of top two-year-olds during their three-year-old campaigns, the Experimental Free Handicap was for more than a decade a real race.
- •The Experimental Handicap was a six-furlong race from 1940 through 1945.
- •The “free” designation became part of the name from 1946 to 1952 because there was not a nomination fee.
- •From 1946 to 1952, the Experimental Free Handicap was contested as two races: one at six furlongs and another at 1 1/16 miles.
- •The six-furlong division of the race was discontinued in 1956, and the race was not held in 1957.
•Seven of the 12 Triple Crown winners led their two-year-old class: Whirlaway (126), Count Fleet (132), Citation (126), Secretariat (129), Seattle Slew (126), Affirmed (126), American Pharoah (126).
Nyquist photo courtesy of Keeneland/Coady Photography