Top Threesome on Experimental Free Handicap (See Dual Qualifiers)
by David Schmitz
Date Posted: 1/27/2004 12:00:42 AM
Last Updated: 1/28/2004 2:55:02 PM

Saratoga Special winner Cuvee shared top weight on the Experimental Free Handicap.
Photo: NYRA/Adam Coglianese
College football gave us dual champions in Louisiana State University and Southern California. Racing secretaries Mike Lakow, Frank Gabriel Jr., and Tom Robbins went one better. They gave us three horses atop the 2003 Experimental Free Handicap for males. Those three runners--Eclipse Award winner Action This Day, Cuvee, and Ruler's Court--accomplished enough to share top billing under the standard top weight of 126 pounds.

"We felt they were deserving because of something special they had accomplished, but there wasn't enough to separate them," said Lakow of the New York Racing Association. Lakow determined the weightings of 88 males and 78 fillies with Gabriel of Arlington Park and Robbins of Del Mar.

That is the first time in Experimental history that three males shared top weight. It has happened three times in the filly division--in 1941, 1968, and 1999.

Action This Day kept the streak alive for Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winners. Starting with Rhythm in 1989, there hasn't been a year in which the Juvenile winner failed to finish atop the Experimental or share the top weight. Since the inaugural Breeders' Cup in 1984, only Forty Niner in 1987 and Easy Goer in '88, finished atop the Experimental without a win in the Juvenile.

Cuvee was the only 2-year-old male to win as many as three graded stakes, taking the Futurity (gr. I), Saratoga Special (gr. II), and Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) Stakes.

"Ruler's Court's win in the Norfolk Stakes (gr. II) could have been the best race by a 2-year-old last year," Lakow said about the 14-length score.

The top-weighted filly, Eclipse Award winner Halfbridled, was assigned 124 pounds, a pound more than the filly standard. She is the first filly to be accorded that honor since Countess Diana in 1997, when she was pegged at 125 pounds. "Halfbridled was undefeated and won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) impressively while going wide," Lakow said.

The Experimental, published since 1933 under the auspices of The Jockey Club, is compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles in the spring for 3-year-olds on dirt.

Horses eligible for weighting were all 2-year-olds of 2003 that finished among the first four in graded or other non-restrictive races with an added value of $75,000 or more, run in the continental United States.

The rankings also come into play when assessing a horse's chances in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), and are used in conjunction with the dosage theory in determining which horses are "dual qualifiers."

Dual qualifiers are those horses ranked within 10 pounds of the male topweight and also have proper dosage figures to win the Churchill classic. Eleven male runners were weighted within 10 pounds of the three topweights. Under the dosage system, each horse is assigned a Dosage Index (DI) and Center of Distribution (CD). Horses with a DI higher than 4.00 and a CD above 1.25 are considered genetically unlikely to win the Run for the Roses.

The 13 dual qualifiers among colts and geldings are:
Horse, EFH Weight, Dosage Index
Action This Day, 126, 1.56
Cuvee, 126, 3.00
Ruler's Court, 126, 1.67
Birdstone, 124, 1.77
Lion Heart, 123, 3.00
Eurosilver, 122, 1.09
Chapel Royal, 121, 3.57
Silver Wagon, 120, 2.50
Perfect Moon, 119, 3.44
Siphonizer, 119, 3.00
Read the Footnotes, 118, 2.00
The Cliff's Edge, 117, 4.00
Tiger Hunt, 116, 1.78

Halfbridled, the filly who has been nominated to the Visa Triple Crown Challenge, is also a dual qualifier, with an EFH weight of 124 and a DI of 1.67.

More on Dosage Index, Dual Qualifiers, From chef-de-race.com

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