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View Full Version : Big Weights "a thing of the past" - article



Glimmerglass
Oct. 23, 2009, 10:39 AM
Did anyone read the interesting article in the Daily Racing Form (link here) from Oct 22nd (http://www.drf.com/news/article/108302.html) titled "Big weights a thing of the past" in regards to handicap weight assignments?

I thought it was great in showing that what was once revered as a badge of honor - toting high weights to victory - in recent years is a joke with assignments.

Per the article no horse has carried 130 pounds (or higher) in a major route race on American soil since Skip Away's Iselin victory August 30, 1998 at Monmouth Park.

A great quip:


Allen Jerkens recalled a remark John Hay Whitney of the old Greentree Stable once made about weights.

"Mr. Whitney said, 'Do you realize they put 136 on Tom Fool for the Brooklyn Handicap?'" Jerkens said, referring to the 1953 Brooklyn. "He said, 'Isn't it wonderful that they think so much of my horse?' There's not many people around now that can afford to be that sporting."

Among the reasons cited for no longer giving high weights? Few handicaped races as it is, owners who are outright adverse to them and will just skip for other options, little geographic limitations (a flight out of NY to FL is easy) with options, and a migration to the weight-for-age conditions.

Offered in the article are those examples of war horses who pulled weight like a sled and on to victory. Furthermore are great links to those horses past performances. Some samples of which when you look closer at them you just have to be astonished with what these guys did.

Past Performances: Roseben (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Roseben.pdf)

Past Performances: Exterminator (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Exterminator.pdf)

Past Performances: Kelso (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Kelso.pdf)

Past Performances: John Henry (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/JohnHenry.pdf)

Glimmerglass
Oct. 23, 2009, 10:59 AM
What the men of old did (and sadly is lost on newer fans who rave about a horse with a career of just 14 races) by todays standards would make any one of them "the greatest". I still think Exterminator was myself of the horses from that golden era but thats just my view ;)

Roseben: 111 starts 52-25-12 (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Roseben.pdf) he retired in 1909 having earned $74,910 (unadjusted for inflation).

Look at his race 12 Nov 1906 @ Aqueduct in the Bayview Handicap. He toted 146-lbs in a 7-furlong race and the runner up toted 119-lbs.

He took 2nd on July 25, 1907 in a 6-furlong race while hauling 150-lbs to the winner with just a mere 92-lbs!! And he lost by only 1 1/2 length!

Exterminator not only hauled weight but went distance (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Exterminator.pdf) and was used rapidly with so little down time. If a trainer did this today they'd likely get ruled off the track!

Example for his rapid runs:
5 June 1922: Belmont @ 1 1/8 mi; won toting 133-lbs to the 2nd place runner with 107
13 Jun 1922: Belmont @ 1 1/16 mi; won toting 135-lbs to the 2nd place runner with 128
16 Jun 1922: Aqueduct @ 1 1/8 mi in the Brooklyn Handicap (today a Grade 2) he won toting 135-lbs to the 2nd place runner Grey Lag (1921's Horse of the Year) with 126-lbs

Just amazing ...

SleepyFox
Oct. 23, 2009, 01:10 PM
What the men of old did (and sadly is lost on newer fans who rave about a horse with a career of just 14 races) by todays standards would make any one of them "the greatest". I still think Exterminator was myself of the horses from that golden era but thats just my view ;)

Roseben: 111 starts 52-25-12 (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Roseben.pdf) he retired in 1909 having earned $74,910 (unadjusted for inflation).



Exterminator not only hauled weight but went distance (http://www.drf.com/news/weekend/images/Exterminator.pdf) and was used rapidly with so little down time. If a trainer did this today they'd likely get ruled off the track!

Example for his rapid runs:
5 June 1922: Belmont @ 1 1/8 mi; won toting 133-lbs to the 2nd place runner with 107
13 Jun 1922: Belmont @ 1 1/16 mi; won toting 135-lbs to the 2nd place runner with 128
16 Jun 1922: Aqueduct @ 1 1/8 mi in the Brooklyn Handicap (today a Grade 2) he won toting 135-lbs to the 2nd place runner Grey Lag (1921's Horse of the Year) with 126-lbs

Just amazing ...


Can you imagine what the Internet forumites would be saying if about either of these examples if they happened today? They'd be clamoring that Roseben needed to be saved b/c he "deserves his retirement already!" And, you're right - Exterminator's trainer would be reamed for his "cruelty." Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

analise
Oct. 23, 2009, 01:30 PM
I just wonder if it's because today's horses can't hold up to it? Or maybe it's because people expect speed records to continually be broken and that gets more difficult if the horses are carrying a lot of weight?

(Not bashing, just curious.)

Equilibrium
Oct. 23, 2009, 01:56 PM
My 2 yo filly Soul Sista carried 133pds last year in a handicap in England. She finished 3rd to horses carrying 21pds and 19pds less. I thought, bloody hell, colts in the KY Derby don't carry that! And by the way, she was a small but well built filly.

At any rate, horses on this side of the pond will routinely carry more weight than the American counterparts. Don't have an opinion on whether it's right or wrong. Filly was fine although I would rather her jumped up a class level so she had a lower weight taking on horses rated better than her but whom would have carried more weight.

Terri

actcasual
Oct. 23, 2009, 03:42 PM
I had just assumed consistently lower weight was a sign of the general parity in TB racing... Why are handicaps so out of favor? Without knowing much about how you put together a race, it seems like handicaps would give trainers an opportunity to just get horses out where they have a chance -- instead of sitting around waiting for exactly the right conditions and then finding that the race doesn't go or the horse can't get in.
Am I way off?

Glimmerglass
Oct. 23, 2009, 04:05 PM
Why are handicaps so out of favor?

As cited in the article:


With few exceptions, weight, long the ultimate equalizer in racing, has largely disappeared from competition. Handicaps have been diluted for such reasons as the proliferation of races and bigger purses, premature retirement of top horses, and higher jockey weights.

At the elite level, handicaps appear less frequently, and, more important, the weight spread - how much the top horse must concede - has narrowed significantly. In other words, handicaps are not what their name suggests.

Three telling quotes:


"I think handicaps are outdated to a point," said P.J. Campo, the racing secretary of the New York Racing Association. "No one wants to carry weight anymore, and if you put too much weight on a guy, they'll just get in a van or get on a plane and go someplace else."

Said Lou Raffetto, the former president of the Maryland Jockey Club and general manager of Suffolk Downs, "The business aspect, unfortunately, outweighs the sporting aspect."

"Nobody puts true weight on a horse, anyway," said trainer Graham Motion, who said he believes handicaps should be done away with. "The bottom line is there are so many options these days that you can just avoid them."

By the way Roseben wasn't nicknamed "The Big Train" for nothing ;)

John Henry who raced to the end of 1984 carried at least 126-lbs in all but three of his last 39 races in his career. Like Exterminator the old man carried the weight and didn't give a damn about it.

Drvmb1ggl3
Oct. 23, 2009, 04:28 PM
I had just assumed consistently lower weight was a sign of the general parity in TB racing... Why are handicaps so out of favor? Without knowing much about how you put together a race, it seems like handicaps would give trainers an opportunity to just get horses out where they have a chance -- instead of sitting around waiting for exactly the right conditions and then finding that the race doesn't go or the horse can't get in.
Am I way off?

The article is really about Handicaps at the elite level of racing. They have fallen out of favour because nobody with a "big" horse wants to see it get mugged by a G3 horse to who they are conceding 20lbs or more.
They do still have handicaps, the Donn, Foster etc, but as to whether they are true handicaps anymore is open for debate, as the weight spread doesn't usually reflect the gap in ability.

As Terri pointed out, Handicaps are the meat and potatoes of racing in many parts of the world, and do allow one to run a horse with a chance of winning, because theoretically all horses' chances are equalised by weight. In places like England you will see horses most days of week running for $10k or $15k purses, toting close to 140lbs and sometimes conceding close to 30lbs to other horses in the race.

actcasual
Oct. 23, 2009, 05:03 PM
As Terri pointed out, Handicaps are the meat and potatoes of racing in many parts of the world, and do allow one to run a horse with a chance of winning, because theoretically all horses' chances are equalised by weight. In places like England you will see horses most days of week running for $10k or $15k purses, toting close to 140lbs and sometimes conceding close to 30lbs to other horses in the race.

This is more what I was thinking of: Mid to high priced claimers and low-end stakes type horses? Couldn't a couple of handicaps cover a broad range of horses, give all of them a theoretical chance, and make track management happy by appealing to bettors with a large, more diverse field?
I certainly didn't expect that trainers of today's elite horses -- the ones that are already so lightly raced and carefully placed, I guess with an eye to the breeding shed -- would want to run in ... dubious company.