The National Steeplechase Association inaugurates a new American race, the Ratings Handicap, at the 50th annual Atlanta Steeplechase in Kingston, Ga., on Saturday.
The Ratings Handicap, suggested by the NSA’s Promotion and Growth Task Force and based on owner surveys, provides more racing opportunities for horses after winning their maiden victories without placing them in claiming races.
The Ratings Handicap is common in overseas jump racing, and the NSA’s goal is to keep horses involved competitively with more chances to race and earn purse money.
Here’s how it works. Early in the year, the NSA created a three-member Ratings Handicap committee to rate all winners over hurdles who were in training for the spring racing season. Working under the supervision of NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr. were Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Editor Joe Clancy, chart caller Martin Chamberlin, and race caller Will O’Keefe.
Sitting atop the list was Eclipse Award winner Demonstrative, who received a 152 rating, and the list goes to a 100 listing.
The top horse in the Ratings Handicap race will carry 156 pounds, and the weights will be adjusted according to the ratings down to a minimum of 136 pounds.
Atlanta’s $25,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle is limited to horses with ratings between 120 and 100. Irv Naylor’s Saint Jerome is rated at 120 and carries 156 pounds. Rated at 101 was G G Gal, who will carry 137 pounds.
Other Ratings Handicap races tentatively are scheduled for the Queen’s Cup on April 25, Block House on May 2, Iroquois on May 9, Radnor on May 16, and Fair Hill on May 23.