Shanghai Bobby outfinished He's Had Enough to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. (Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)
By Bob Ehalt
Shanghai Bobby dropped out of one exclusive fraternity last weekend but he joined another one this week.
On Saturday, he fell from the ranks of unbeaten 3-year-olds with a second-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3).
But, on Wednesday, the reigning juvenile champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner was pegged as the highweight on the 2012 Experimental Free Handicap, putting him in the same company as champions Affirmed, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Citation.
Compiled by three of the nation’s leading racing secretaries – the New York Racing Association’s P.J. Campo, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland Race Course, and Del Mar’s Thomas S. Robbins – the Experimental Free Handicap ranks male and female 2-year-olds as if they were running against each other in a handicap race.
Shanghai Bobby, off an undefeated campaign, topped the list for colts and geldings with a weight assignment of 126 pounds, three pounds more than Juvenile runner-up He’s Had Enough and graded stakes winner Violence.
VIOLENCE WINNING CASHCALL FUTURITY
Photo courtesy of Benoit & Associates
Taking into account only 2-year-old races, the Experimental Free Handicap historically has painted an accurate picture of 2-year-old form since it was started in 1933 by Walter Vosburgh. Considering how a horse that did not race at two has not won the Kentucky Derby since 1882, the Experimental often has played a key role in highlighting horses to watch in the “Run for the Roses” as well as the other two legs of the Triple Crown.
From 2003 through 2012, the winners of 13 Triple Crown races appeared on the Experimental Free Handicap and only twice in that period (2011 and 2008) has there been a Triple Crown season without at least one Experimental horse winning a part of the series.
I’ll Have Another, who won last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness, best illustrates a horse who showed some flashes of potential at two then blossomed three. He was assigned 111 pounds on the Experimental Free Handicap.
I'LL HAVE ANOTHER WINNING DERBY
Last year, Hansen and Union Rags were co-highweights at 126, and while neither one hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, the value of 2-year-old form came to the fore in the Belmont Stakes when Union Rags captured the final leg of the Triple Crown.
In recent years, five of the last eight Kentucky Derby winners were included on the Experimental Free Handicap. Prior to I’ll Have Another, Super Saver was assigned 122 pounds on the 2009 Experimental Free Handicap, four less than the co-highweights Lookin At Lucky and Vale of York. Despite his promise at two, Super Saver wound up paying a generous $18 to win on Kentucky Derby day 2010.
The Experimental Free Handicap listed an even more improbable Derby winner in 2005 when Giacomo, who received a 122-pound impost on the 2004 Experimental, returned $102.60 after his shocking win.
While the last seven horses to be assigned the highweight or co-highweight on the Experimental (from 2007-2011) have not finished better than sixth in the Derby, Shanghai Bobby can draw some inspiration from Street Sense. He won the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, was assigned the Experimental Free Handicap highweight of 127 pounds and won the 2007 Derby.
Maybe, with a tradition as rich as the Experimental Free Handicap, it’s finally time for history to repeat itself.
EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP FACTS AND FIGURES
(for previous 10 years, Experimental Free Handicaps 2002-2011)
2012 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP (males)
|Shanghai Bobby||126||dk b/br||KY||Stonehaven Steadings||by Harlan's Holiday out of Steelin' by Orientate|
|He's Had Enough||123||gr/ro||KY||Alexander Groves Matz, LLC||by Tapit out of Amelia by Dixieland Band|
|Violence||123||dk b/br||KY||Dell Ridge Farm, LLC||by Medaglia d'Oro out of Violent Beauty by Gone West|
|George Vancouver||121||b||KY||Capital Bloodstock||by Henrythenavigator out of Versailles Treaty by Danzig|
|Power Broker||121||ch||KY||Jamm, Ltd.||by Pulpit out of Shop Again by Wild Again|
|Overanalyze||120||b||KY||Diamond A Racing Corp.||by Dixie Union out of Unacloud by Unaccounted For|
|Uncaptured||120||dk b/br||ON||William D. Graham||by Lion Heart out of Captivating by Arch|
|Capo Bastone||119||ch||KY||Hargus Sexton, Sandra Sexton, Tom Bozarth & Silver Fern Farm, LLC||by Street Boss out of Fight to Love by Fit to Fight|
|Noble Tune||119||dk b/br||KY||Dell Ridge Farm, LLC||by Unbridled's Song out of Serena's Cat by Storm Cat|
2012 EXPERIMENTAL FREE HANDICAP (fillies)
|Beholder||123||b||KY||Clarkland Farm||by Henny Hughes out of Leslie's Lady by Tricky Creek|
|Executiveprivilege||122||b||KY||Betz/D.J. Stable/Kidder/J. Betz/Robenalt||by First Samurai out of Refugee by Unaccounted For|
|Flotilla (FR)||120||dk b/br||FR||Eric Puerari, Oceanic Bloodstock & Ariane Gravereaux||by Mizzen Mast out of Louvain (IRE) by Sinndar (IRE)|
|Kauai Katie||120||b||KY||Spendthrift Farm LLC||by Malibu Moon out of More Than Pretty by More Than Ready|
|Dreaming of Julia||119||b||KY||Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC||by A.P. Indy out of Dream Rush by Wild Rush|
|My Happy Face||119||gr/ro||KY||Spendthrift Farm & Shawhan Place||by Tiz Wonderful out of Summer Star by Siberian Summer|
|Pure Fun||119||ch||KY||Royal Oak Farm, LLC||by Pure Prize out of Chelsea Green by Key to the Mint|
|So Many Ways||118||b||PA||John R. Penn & John C. Penn||by Sightseeing out of Happy Scene by Dehere|
|Sign||117||b||KY||Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider||by Pulpit out of Cross by Mighty|
|Spring in the Air||117||b||ON||WinStar Farm LLC||by Spring At Last out of Unbridled Run by Unbridled|
|Unlimited Budget||117||b||FL||Ocala Stud||by Street Sense out of Unlimited Pleasure by Valid Appeal|
|Watsdachances (IRE)||117||b||IRE||P. G. Lyons||by Diamond Green (FR) out of High Finance (IRE) by Entrepreneur (GB)|