Experimental Free Handicap to get new name

by | Dec 19, 2017 | Breaking, Business, National news

American Pharoah

American Pharoah. Photo by Laurie Asseo.

From a Jockey Club release

The Jockey Club announced today that the Experimental Free Handicap, a weight-based assessment of the previous year’s leading 2-year-olds for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles, has been renamed The Jockey Club’s Annual Top 2-Year-Old Rankings.

The 2017 rankings will be published under the new name in late January.

“After consulting with various historians, racing secretaries, turf writers and other industry stakeholders, we feel that the time has come to re-brand the Experimental Free Handicap,” said James L. Gagliano, president and chief operating officer of The Jockey Club. “Today, the Experimental Free Handicap name seems to confuse more than enlighten anyone, especially new or prospective fans of our sport. We believe that The Jockey Club’s Annual Top 2-Year-Old Rankings will more appropriately reflect The Jockey Club’s association with the rankings and what the weights actually indicate.”

The weighting committee of racing officials consists of 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.


These five individuals will continue to create the rankings for The Jockey Club.

The Experimental Handicap was created in 1933 as a variation of England’s Free Handicap. Of the 12 American Triple Crown winners, seven were the high-weights or co-high-weights of their 2-year-old class: Whirlaway (126), Count Fleet (132), Citation (126), Secretariat (129), Seattle Slew (126), Affirmed (126), American Pharoah (126).

An actual race from 1940-1956, the Experimental Handicap became the Experimental Free Handicap in 1952 to designate the lack of a nomination fee to enter in the race.

Weights for the 2016 Experimental Free Handicap are available on The Jockey Club’s website.