Experimental Free Handicap ranks 2009 2-year-olds

BY foxsports • January 28, 2010

Looking for a couple of early Kentucky Derby contenders?

You may want to start with Vale of York and Lookin at Lucky if you choose to follow a hypothetical ranking known as the Experimental Free Handicap.

Vale of York and Lookin at Lucky ran 1-2 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November, and were highweighted at 126 pounds in annual rankings released Thursday by The Jockey Club.

The rankings consider performances of the horses as 2-year-olds and are compiled based on handicapping for a 1 1/16-mile race on dirt.

Noble's Promise was next at 124 pounds, followed by Buddy's Saint at 123 pounds, and Pounced and Super Saver at 122 pounds.

Of course, there is no sure thing in horse racing.

Street Sense in 2006 was the last Kentucky Derby winner to be assigned highweight after his 2-year-old campaign. A year ago, Midshipman was the highweight but did not run in the Derby. Mine That Bird, meanwhile, didn't even make the list and won the Derby at 50-1 odds.

Triple Crown winners Affirmed (1978), Secretariat (1973) and Count Fleet, (1943) were highweighted after their 2-year-old campaigns.

Lookin at Lucky was the Eclipse Award winner as 2-year-old male champion, while Vale of York was a finalist for the award.

Vale of York finished a head in front of Lookin at Lucky in the BC Juvenile in his only start in North America. The colt owned by Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed's Godolphin Racing won three of six starts for earnings of $1.15 million.

Lookin at Lucky, trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert, won five of six races last year and earned $1.24 million for owners Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman. He followed up his only loss with a victory in the CashCall Futurity.

Buddy's Saint won the Nashua and the Remsen by a combined 16 3/4 lengths; Pounced won two of four starts, including the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf; and Super Saver counts the Kentucky Jockey Club as one of two wins in four starts.

The top fillies are Blind Luck and She Be Wild at 123 pounds.

Blind Luck won four of six starts in '09, including the Hollywood Starlet. She finished second behind She Be Wild in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Racing secretaries at Churchill Downs, the New York Racing Association and the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club compiled the rankings. The committee weighted 93 males and 82 fillies, all of whom finished among the top four in graded or unrestricted races with purses of at least $75,000.

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