In Advocacy of Divided Handicaps.: Noted Authority Describes Method Originated by Him and Now Used in Australia., Daily Racing Form, 1917-01-27


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■ i i • i I • i i I i l IN ADVOCACY OF DIVIDED HANDICAPS. Noted Authority Describes Method Originated by Him and Now Used in Australia. By W. S. Yosburgh. It is a subject of frequent comment, that our races, "for three -yeer-oMa and over" are nearly all handicaps and selling races. The fact is due. partially, to the effect of the hostile legislation in New York in 1000-10; and later, as recovering slowly from its roaaeqnencea, the conditions have not warranted offering races at weight-for-age. or with conditions based upon penalties and allowances. Hut even before the legislation of 190S-10, the tendency toward handicaps and selling races had grow a to an extent that all other forms of races had Income rare. Pacing secretaries had becoase chary of offering races based on penalties and allowances — the ghost of a "walkover" was ever present. I recall a walkover at Aqueduct in IMS. It almost produced a panic. Years ago. a walkover was not uncommon, and excited little att ntion. But latterly, there has arisen a creed that the conditions Of every race must be framed to produce a large field. This has received additional impulse since the adoption of the pari-mutuel system: and wore it not that the rules of racing bold that three entries qualify a race, it is possible that only three entries to a race" would be followed by its being withdrawn. In brief, the effort is to produce fields. To do this, condition races are considered unreliable. There is always present a fear that some bene will be "overlooked." and claim an allowance of weight that renders his prospect of winning so bright as to frighten off all opposition. Hence, handicaps and selling races rule supreme. Handicaps relieve the secretary, or race committee, of the trouble of rhinking, while selling races are popular in so fat-as they enable the owners to select the weight their horses shall carry. The open handicaps have quite taken the place of weight-forage or condition races. Indfl d, this is so marked that they have become considered tin- legitimate prey of the lx-st muses, and the sncci ss of a poor horse is actually resented and. after the race, it is discovered that he was "thrown-in" — due to a perverted understanding of the purpose of a handicap, which is to equalize the hancts of all the starters. As to selling races, they have been a source of abuse for •ears, and to remedy which has been a thorn in the shies of our rating legislators. "What a Divided Handicap Is. Divided handicaps would, in my opinion, go a long way toward helping matters. What I call a divided, or classified handicap, is one for which all the horses nominated are weighted the same as in any handicap: then divided into two classes — those handicapped about— say 10." pounds or 100 pounds, to form Kace No. 1: those weighted below that figure, to form Kace No. 2; only that the weights in Baca No. 2 are raised ten pounds or fifteen pounds. By these Bseana, we are enable, to have a race between horses of the first-class without their being compelled to concede undue weight to inferior apnea — something approaching a weight-forage race with classification. In Pice No. 2, raising the weights renders the horses probable starters, as it enables them to Iw ridden by competent jockeys — something which under their original allotment is rarely possible. In addition, it enables horses to win a handicap which they could not otherwise, bathe; outclassed. Such horses at present belong in the selling rue class, yet their owners rarely care to sell them. To this class, the divided handicap would open a new field of usefulness and thus help simplify the selling race question which has. is, and threatens always to be a vexatious one. I originated the divided handicap as long ago as IsllO. At the time. I was handieapper at Morris Park; also at Monmouth Park where the late 1. I. Withers was the active spirit, and for whom I made the programs. One day I happened to mention the subject to him. "Divided handicap? — divided handicap?" he Inquired with his old mans habit of repeating his question, "what do you mean by a divided handicap?" I explained the system. "Its curious I never thought of that," lie replied after some redaction. Dont you like the plan?," I asked. "Like it? — like it? — of course I like it — who said I didnt like it?. But d..n it! 1 cant think why it never occurred to me. How did you happen to think of it?" Mr. Withers Tests the Plan. The Choleric old geath man was thoroughly aroused and so I had to explain: I said that in open handicaps tlie owners of the best horses would not accept the weights their horses should carry if the chances of the poorer class of horses were to be considered. To retain the best horses, com -p. lied a moderate maximum which depressed the scale so low that the poorer horses are too lightly weighted to be ridden by competent jockeys. In fact, the difference between the maximum and minimum was too littb — it enabled the "crack" benea to monopolize the handicaps. My plan obviated that; it enabled the proper weighting of the best class in one race; and in the other, gave the selling platen a chance to race among themselves without liability to sale. •Well. said Mr. Withers, when I had finished. "I like the idea and I think we should try it next year. You draw the conditions and well make it a feature of the opening day at Monmouth Park." I drafted the conditions, and Mr. Withers added them to the Fourth of July Handicap to be run on the opening day of the Monmouth Park meeting of 1891. When it was advertised in February of that jeir, its novelty caused some comment; many required it to be explained, but my old friend W. L. Powers, who was agent for many stabbs. with that loyalty for which he is so eminently distinguished, personally solicited support for it. and we had tlie satisfaction of having it close with 101 nominations — about double the number of any other all-aged handicap of the meeting. Even Coney Islands famous Suburban had only seventy -one nominations that year. The following were the conditions: Conditions of the Race. "Fourth of July Handicap, a sweepstake of SaO each, half forfeit, or only .0 if declared on tlie i: i.v before the day appointed for the race; weights to be published on the second day before the race; the winner of any handicap after publication of th« weights to carry five pounds extra; the horses entered to be divided into two classes and the stakes into two stakes; those accepting over 140 I ounds to form Pace No. 1: these accepting 105 pounds or less to form Kace No. 2; in Pace No. 2 the weights are to be raised for three years old ten pounds; for four years old or upward, fifteen pounds more than they were handicapped. To each race ,500 to be added, of which 50 to the second and ."0 to the third; forfeits and declarations to accrue to the race to which the horse owning hem is assigned by the handieapper. One mile." Adverse legislation compelled the Monmouth Park Association to bold its meeting of 18M at Morris and Jerome Parks. The Fourth of July Handicap was run at Morris Path OB the opening day lx l-ue a large assemblage. The first division race. Pace No. 1. was won by the famous Paceland. The • eon I divisio is race. Kace No. 2. was won by Benaada. In lsitj. the race was renewed and run at Monmouth Park; Pace No. 1 falling to Tournament which defeated Montana the Suburban win-in r of that year and others; the second divisions race was warn by Sir Mathew, beating among others, the filly Kildeer which soon after lowered the mile record in an actual race to 1:37 lt. The death of Mr. Withers, followed by the withdrawal of .Messrs. Gaaaatt, Lorillard. Bennett. Wet-BSOCI and Oalway, caused, the Monmouth Park Association to pass into oilier hands. Then followed additional legislation of adverse character rendering it Impossible to raet in New Jersey, and the Monmouth Park Association ceased to ex* t. How Used in Australia. In Australia, however, the divided handicap has since bi i n adapted and become quite popular, When, in PJ10, S. s. Howland was in Mil bourne, he wrote to me referring to it, and showed they bad gone a step beyond my plan, and perhaps improved upon it. They divided it into three races; Tiny start With the top-weight. Bit; pounds. Horses handicapped at lti2 pounds and over are qualified to start only in the first class; those handicapped bid ween 127 pounds ami 143 panada are qualified to start only for tin- s ■ olid .lass; those handicapped under 127 pounds are qualified only for th" third class. Then the weights of all in the first class are reduced seventy pounds; in the second class thirty-five pounds; while those handicapped for the third class, carry the weight allotted by the handieapper. It will be seen that by this reduction the topweight in the first class, if accepting, carries only 120 ponds; in the second, only 127 pounds, anil in the third, 120 pounds. Since the running for the divided handicap at Monmouth Park in 1SP2 1 have never as much as suggested its trial to any of the racing associations. knowing the retactance to try innovations. But I believe it is progressive fan spirit, and in practice. alter it had become a fixture, would become a popular feature. It would allow a wider margin of weig it and permit of the "crack" horses in the first division to be more equitably weighted without calling upon them to carry heavy burdens. It would give horses in the second class a chance to win which is difficult in open handicaps where the t ramped scale gives the better horses too great an advantage. Finally, it would, or should open a new fieltl to the horses now starting for selling I; ces. in that they would escape the liability to sale, and thus possibly reduce the number of selling laces which are the cause of so much vexation.

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