Nyquist, Song­bird top rank­ings

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Matt He­garty

Nyquist, the un­de­feated win­ner of last year’s Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile and the 2015 Eclipse Award win­ner in his cat­e­gory, was as­signed 126 pounds to top the an­nual Ex­per­i­men­tal Free Hand­i­cap, one pound more than the high­est-ranked filly, the un­de­feated Song­bird.

Nyquist, by Un­cle Mo, was as­signed a weight two pounds more than his ri­val Swipe, a colt by Birdstone who fin­ished se­cond to Nyquist in the Ju­ve­nile and two other Grade 1 races. The weight is based on a the­o­ret­i­cal race for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles, the dis­tance of both the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile and Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies.

The Ex­per­i­men­tal Free Hand­i­cap has been re­leased ev­ery year since 1935, and since 1985 fil­lies and males have been ranked sep­a­rately by the com­mit­tee that as­signs the weights. A top weight of 126 pounds is con­sid­ered stan­dard for a male, and a top weight of 123 pounds is con­sid­ered stan­dard for a filly, a dif­fer­ence that is based on the three-pound weight al­lowance for fil­lies com­pet­ing in open races.

Song­bird’s as­signed weight of 125 is the high­est for a filly since Count­ess Diana was as­signed 125 pounds in 1997. The high­est-weighted filly ever was First Flight, who was as­signed 126 pounds in 1946. In 2003, the 2-year-old cham­pion filly Half­bri­dled was as­signed 124 pounds, two pounds fewer than a trio of males as­signed 126 pounds in the same year’s rank­ing. Sev­eral other fil­lies have come within two pounds of the lead­ing male as well.

Both Song­bird and Nyquist ful­filled ex­pec­ta­tions by win­ning their re­spec­tive races at the Breed­ers’ Cup. How­ever, many hand­i­cap­pers rated Song- bird’s per­for­mance the stronger of the two due to her faster time and the ease with which she won. Song­bird won the Ju­ve­nile Fil­lies by 5 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:42.73 and earned a Beyer Speed Fig­ure of 99, while Nyquist won by a half-length in 1:43.79 and got an 89 Beyer.

Nyquist, trained by Doug O’Neil, is be­ing placed squarely on the Triple Crown trail, but Song­bird, trained by Jerry Hol­len­dor­fer, has not been nom­i­nated to the se­ries. Hol­len­dor­fer has said that her spring tar­get is the Ken­tucky Oaks, run the day prior to the Derby.

Last year, Amer­i­can Pharoah (by Pioneerof the Nile), who would win the Triple Crown and Breed­ers’ Cup Clas­sic in his 3-year-old cam­paign, was ranked at 126 pounds, equal to Texas Red (Afleet Alex), who won the Breed­ers’ Cup Ju­ve­nile in his 2-year-old sea­son.

A to­tal of 113 males and 105 fil­lies were as­signed weights this year. For the first time, horses that com­peted only in Cana­dian races were con­sid­ered el­i­gi­ble for weight­ing.

Fol­low­ing Nyquist, Song­bird, and Swipe were the colts Brody’s Cause (by Gi­ant’s Cause­way) and Hit It a Bomb (by War Front), both ranked at 121 pounds. The colts Airo­force (by Colonel John) and Green-pointcru­sader ( by Ber­na­dini) were co-ranked next at 120 pounds, along with a pair of fil­lies, Catch a Glimpse (by City Zip) and Rachel’s Valentina (by Bernar­dini).

The rank­ings this year were as­signed by a com­mit­tee of rac­ing sec­re­taries com­pris­ing 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, and Thomas S. Rob­bins of Del Mar Thor­ough­bred Club.

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