Jockey Club Discontinues Experimental Free Handicap for 2019

Because of waning relevance and interest, for 2019 The Jockey Club ceased publishing its Top 2-Year-Old Rankings.

First published in 1933 as the Experimental Free Handicap, the hypothetical ranking of 2-year-olds at a distance of 1 1/16 miles was a variation of England’s Free Handicap ranking. Seven of the 13 Triple Crown winners were the highest ranked in the Experimental Free Handicap. The most recent winner of the Triple Crown, Justify in 2018, was unraced as a juvenile.

Jockey Club Replaces Experimental Free Handicap With ‘Top 2-Year-Old Rankings’

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

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 at

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