Shanghai Bobby

Shanghai Bobby

Crawford Ifland

Champions Top Experimental Free Handicap

Shanghai Bobby tops male division at 126 and Beholder is high-weighted filly at 123.

Shanghai Bobby  and Beholder, the 2012 champion 2-year-old male and female, respectively, are the highweights on The Jockey Club's 2012 Experimental Free Handicap released Jan. 30.

Shanghai Bobby, last year's champion 2-year-old male and undefeated winner of the Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) for owners Starlight Racing, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor, and Derrick Smith, received the high weight assignment of 126 pounds in the male division. A son of Harlan's HolidaySteelin' (by Orientate), Shanghai Bobby won all five of his 2012 starts for trainer Todd Pletcher. In his 2013 debut, the colt finished second to Itsmyluckyday  in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III).

Spendthrift Farm's Beholder, whose three victories from five starts included the Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), was the high-weighted filly with 123 pounds. In her 2013 debut, the daughter of Henny HughesLeslie's Lady (by Tricky Creek) trained by Richard Mandella finished second to Renee's Titan in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II). 

Published annually since 1935, The Jockey Club Experimental Free Handicap is a weight-based assessment of the previous year's leading 2-year-olds, with the weights compiled for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.

The weighting committee of racing secretaries consists of P.J. Campo of the New York Racing Association, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland, and Thomas S. Robbins of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

The committee weighted a total of 125 males and 117 females. Eligible for weighting were all 2-year-olds of 2012 that finished among the top four in graded or listed stakes races run in the continental United States. Listed stakes in 2012 were those with a value of $75,000 or more available to all starters, and no restrictions other than age or sex.

Among sires of Experimental horses, Harlan's Holiday, Kitten's Joy , and Malibu Moon  are represented by six each, followed by Broken Vow , City Zip, Henny Hughes, and Unbridled's Song with five each.

Kentucky had the largest number of Experimental horses, with 152, followed by Florida (31), New York (11), and Pennsylvania (9).

According to The Jockey Club, following are trends and statistics gathered from the Experimental Free Handicap over the past 10 years:

The largest difference from highweight to second was in 2007 with War Pass at 127 pounds, seven more than Dixie Chatter , Into Mischief , and Pyro at 120.

Of the five Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winners assigned a weight, the average weight assignment was 119.2 pounds.

Of the 15 horses high weighted or co-highweighted, three went on to win a Triple Crown race (Union Rags , Lookin At Lucky , Street Sense ), three others won graded stakes, and three others were grade I-placed. 

Highweights and horses giving five pounds or less to the highweights for the male division account for 48 horses. That group of 48 has produced seven winners of Triple Crown racesUnion Rags, Lookin At Lucky, Super Saver , Street Sense, Afleet Alex , Giacomo, Birdstone and eight other grade I winners, including 2004 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lion Heart.

The aforementioned group of 48 also includes 12 additional graded stakes winners, including Creative Cause , who was third in the 2012 Preakness Stakes (gr. I).

Of 48 males highweighted or giving five pounds or less to that year's highweight, 27 won graded stakes as 3-year-olds. Only 10 of the 48 did not at least place in a graded race at 3.

Fourteen horses that went on to a Triple Crown race the following year were not rated on the Experimental Free Handicap.

Two fillies have won Triple Crown races in the course of the past 10 years: Rags to Riches, the 2007 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, was not rated among females in 2006 and Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Preakness winner, was rated at 116 pounds in 2008.