The Question: How much weight can a race horse carry without the danger of breaking down?

January 28, 1957

JOHN HAY (JOCK) WHITNEY
U.S. Ambassador to England, Co-owner Greentree Stable
As much weight as his owner has heart for. There is no scientific justification available for the claim that a highweight in itself will break a horse down. The accent on weight limitation is a device used by some tracks to attract name horses, thereby effectively impairing true handicaps.

SUNNY JIM FITZSIMMONS
New York
Horse trainer
One horse might break down with 100 pounds while another might carry 150 pounds without trouble. You can't tell what really breaks a horse down. However, after you put 126 pounds or more on a distance horse, a lot can happen to him in the stretch. A tired horse is prone to injury.

EVERETT HIGBY
New York
Corporation secretary
I do business with Major B. Spencer Freeman, who once owned part of Nasrullah, sire of Nashua. Major Freeman is allied with Joe McGrath in running the Irish Sweepstakes. He thinks that it is dangerous from an investment viewpoint for a champion horse to carry over 135 pounds. So do I.

LADY SUZZANE WILKINS
Montrose, Pa.
Painter and horsewoman
It depends on the type of horse, its age, the length of the race and the country in which the horse is bred. Australian horses are more sturdy than those bred in the U.S., Europe and Argentina. Depending on the type of race, a horse may safely be weighted between 100-160 pounds.

PETER S. HOWARD
San Francisco
Photographer
Charles S. Howard, my grandfather, who owned Seabiscuit and Noor, insisted that 136 pounds was the limit for the greatest horses. Tom Smith, the great trainer of Sea-biscuit, Jet Pilot and Kayak II, said that more than 132 pounds on a horse could break him down. I agree with grandfather.

MRS. CORNELIUS VANDERBILT WHITNEY
C. V. Whitney Stables
That's the great argument in handicapping. My own feeling is that the size of a horse should be a great factor. In other words, if a horse is 15 hands high he shouldn't carry as much weight as one 17 hands high. Some great horses have carried 140 pounds, and 130 would not be too much for them.

REX ELLSWORTH
Chino, Calif.
Co-owner of Swaps
You're courting danger when you run a horse with 130 pounds or more. You don't like risking a valuable horse with a high handicap against one running with 100 pounds and worth about $20,000. After hearing all the evidence, I think the public wants good horses to run in their own class.

ANN STUART ARIAIL
Miss Alabama of 1956
The main consideration is to keep the speed high while imposing handicaps that will make racing interesting. For hundreds of years horses were able to support all sizes of cavalrymen. In the old days, the riders wore heavy armor, to boot. Why stop at a dinky handicap of 130?

CHARLES F. DAVENPORT
Vice president and general manager
Freehold Raceway
Tops for all horses 4 years or older should be 128 pounds. Nashua's owners never did race him with more than 130 pounds. I don't blame them. The injuries to Native Dancer and Swaps might have been caused by highweights. Proper handicapping can be had by lessening weights all 'round.

CHARLES J. McLENNAN
Director of racing
Hialeah Park
I don't know of any horse who ever broke down solely because of the weight he carried, although it has been used as an excuse for horses with other troubles. Some jumpers carry 160-170 pounds and absorb tremendous impact on their front legs when they land, and yet it doesn't bother them.

CHRIS SCHENKEL
CBS sportscaster
Up to 140 pounds. It's the track conditions rather than weights that are responsible for many injuries. Exterminator and Discovery carried highweights without injury. More recently, Tom Fool won, weighted at 136. I know how conscientious racing secretaries are about rating horses fairly.

MIKI MINGO (PRINCESS SILVER FOOT)
Narragansett Indian
It all depends on the horse. Some big horses can carry more weight than others without any danger of breaking them down. The ideal weight for a strong horse like Native Dancer is my weight, 135 pounds. Without a saddle and bareback, of course, just like I ride—bareback.

THIRTEEN PHOTOS

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)