Moodygirl asked in SportsHorse Racing · 1 decade ago

How and why are race horses assigned weights to carry?

I've read of good race horses being required to carry 130+ lbs against younger or less successful horses carrying much less. I thought it was to give a younger horse more of a chance but isn't a race about which horse is fastest? Why is a better horse penalized & how do they determine the weights?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    The idea of weight allowances, or assignment of weights to handicap a horse, is to try to even things out by making the better horses carry more weight and giving the less-successful horses a chance by giving them a lighter weight.

    All the weights that racehorses carry start with The Jockey Club Scale of Weights as the basis. The website gives the Scale of Weights: http://horseracing.about.com/library/blscale.htm

    The weights in these tables are the "starting point" for weight assignments for all Thoroughbred races in America. (There is a different Scale of Weights for Thoroughbred races in Britain/Europe, with somewhat heavier weights.)

    When a Racing Secretary is writing the races he's going to put in the Condition Book (this is the list of future races to be run at a race meeting), he starts with the Scale Weight as his basis.

    How adjustments are made to the weight assignment depends on the kind of race it is. In most races, the weight each individual horse carries is determined by the conditions of the race.

    Here is an example from the Pimlico Condition Book for the current meeting: (This is the first race for the day before the Preakness, this coming Friday, 05/15: http://www.pimlico.com/NR/exeres/E5D0865F-B0C2-4BB...

    "Purse $30,000. For Fillies And Mares Three Years Old and Upward Which have never won a race other than Maiden, Claiming or Starter or Which have never won two races.

    Three Year Olds 119 lbs.

    Older 124 lbs.

    "Non-winners of a race other than Claiming at a mile or over since March 15 2 lbs.

    "Such a race since February 15 4 lbs. "

    Basically, three-year-olds will carry 119 pounds, four year olds 124 pounds. The maximum weight allowance is four pounds, given to any horse which has not won a race other than a claiming race at a distance of a mile or more are allowed 4 pounds. So the lightest weight any horse would carry would be 115 pounds, for a three-year-old with the maximum weight allowance. Top weight would be 124 pounds for an older horse that cannot claim an allowance. So top to bottom there is a weight spread of 9 pounds between the horses considered best and the horses considered worst.

    Every handicapper uses their own formula for determining how to allocate weight. The rule I was brought up on is that 1 lb weight = 1/5 second of time = 1 length at distances of at least a mile, as long as the weights are above scale weight.

    Basically, using this rule, the racing secretary who wrote the conditions for the race I'm using as an examples sees a 9 length difference between the strongest horses and the weakest horses if they were all carrying equal weights. And he attempts to equalize things by calling for weight allowances.

    In a handicap race, which is a race where the racing secretary assigns the weights, the handicapper looks at the performance of the specific horses that are entered, the weights they have carried, how well the horses have done in similar races, and whether any of the horses have raced against each other, and he assigns weights in an attempt to equalize things.

    To cite an example, when Man O' War was racing, he gave up to 32 pounds weight to some opponents and still beat them. When his owner Sam Riddle asked racing secretary Walter Vosburgh what weights Vosburgh would assign to Man O' War if the great champion raced as a 4-year-old. Vosburgh unhesitatingly said that since Man O' War had already won with 138 pounds as a three-year-old, he would assign Man O' War more weight than he'd ever assigned to any other horse. Riddle immediately decided to retire the horse.

  • 4 years ago

    Handicap Horse Racing

  • 1 decade ago

    It IS the point of racing to win, however, if you were CONSTANTLY losing, would you want to race? Probably not. Well, same with race horse owners! They wouldn't want to race their horse against another horse when they knew that the other horse would win! So basically they just assign weights so that they can make money. Lol.

    Source(s): Know people in the horse racing business.
  • 5 years ago

    Well in 1973 i know that Secretariat carried about 140 pounds and thats the most ive ever heard of a horse carrying.

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  • 4 years ago

    Nobody has actually explained why the weighting of more-successful horses is fair.

  • 5 years ago

    when are horses assigned weights, which racs

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    It's really bad

  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    Was on Yahoo for something unrelated, but this question was trending on the sidebar...

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