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She's So Heavy, Heavy, Heavy...Continued

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Whether you believe the issue of weight it a major issue or a non-issue, the sparring between the trainers of Blind Luck (Jerry Hollendorfer) and Havre de Grace (Larry Jones) certainly adds to the rivalry.

From the NTRA (10 Questions For The Trainers of Blind Luck and Havre de Grace):

NTRA: Did the two pounds in your estimation make a big difference?

Jerry Hollendorfer: Let me ask you this...Do you think it was a big difference that I carried 10 more pounds in the Cotillion? It's a yes or no answer. Weight always makes a big difference. It always has in horse racing and that's why everybody yells about it. If Larry Jones and Mr. Porter say they were unfairly weighted in the Delaware Handicap I sincerely think they believe that. I didn't think the weights were unfair because at that time she [Havre de Grace] was considered the best horse in the country and we were flying in to their home court and she was undefeated this year and that is why the racing secretary went for the two pounds. I will say this, I did not ask for two pounds. The secretary weighted them, not me. Does it [weight] make a difference? It always makes a difference even if only psychologically. I never asked for two pounds. If they had given me four pounds, I would have been happier. If Larry could get weight off of a horse, he is going to take it.

 

NTRA: The controversy over Havre de Grace being assigned to carry two pounds more than Blind Luck (124-122) in their last race, the Delaware Handicap, which was won by Blind Luck by a nose, continues to be discussed and debated in the media. What do you make of it?

Larry Jones: I feel strongly about this issue. I've recently spoken to many experienced racing secretaries all across the country, and they can't believe our horse was giving Blind Luck weight last time. A couple of people have come up to me and said "Come on, Larry, weight doesn't really matter." Excuse me? We've been assigning weight to horses for 100 years. I guess we didn't know what we were doing all that time. To me, the two pound difference wasn't fair. I didn't want to get weight from Blind Luck-I just thought it should be even. I feel like I was held hostage because we accepted the weight to make the race go. Everyone knew we had been pointing to this race for a long time and weren't going anywhere.

I leave you to decide what to make of the quotes from the trainers with this small caveat: I found it interesting that Hollendorfer stated that weight makes a difference," even if only psychologically." He's obviously referring to trainer psychology, since the horse doesn't know the specific weight that it's carrying on their back.  And in my mind, if the issue is a psychological one for the connections (which I have no doubt is true) then it becomes tough to quantify the actual impact.

As to Larry Jones' point that racing has been assigning weight for over 100 years, he's obviously 100% correct - handicapping horses through the addition and subtraction of weight has been a part of the game for years and years.  However, as we all know, racing secretaries rarely assign very large weight differences between rivals in the modern game (as compared to twenty or more years ago) and most handicap horses rarely carry more weight than a three-year-old at the Kentucky Derby.

As noted before, the races between these two fillies have been exceptionally close almost every single time, regardless of the difference in weight...even a ten pound difference.  Fortunately, the Ladies' Classic is weight-for-age, so this won't be an issue.