Updated on 09/16/2011 6:40AM

Sakhee is Intl. highweight of 2001


Sakhee is the 's highweighted horse of 2001, having earned a rating of 133 for his handy triumphs in both the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and the Juddmonte International Stakes.

Point Given and Johannesburg, both finalists in the race for the Eclipse Award as American Horse of the Year, took honors in the other Classification rankings. Point Given is the 3-year-old champion at 130, which also makes him the top rated horse in the world on dirt, while Johannesburg's 126 gives him the juvenile championship.

The International Classification, employed since 1977 to determine European champion status has, since 1995, included American horses. It now incorporates horses from Japan and Australia as well. The 2-year-old Classification, however, is still restricted to horses trained in Europe due to a lack of comparative form lines.

Sakhee, Godolphin's brightest star, was rated four pounds better than stablemate Fantastic Light, the Breeders' Cup Turf winner who was granted a 129 rating. That, in turn is one pound higher than the highweight American older horse Tiznow.

The 128 awarded Tiznow means that Classification handicappers, representing all of the major racing nations of Europe, plus the United States, Japan and Australia, rate Sakhee's Arc and Juddmonte efforts five pounds higher than that of Tiznow and himself in the Breeders' Cup Classic. Tiznow's rating also makes him the highest rated older horse in the world on dirt.

Sprinters filled the next two places in the older horse category with Delaware Township and Kona Gold at 127 for their runs in the De Francis Dash and the Bing Crosby, respectively.

Slickly, another Godolphin trainee, ranks as 2001's best turf miler with a 125 rating earned for his three-length victory over Banks Hill in the Prix du Moulin de Longchamp. Val Royal, at 124 for his Breeders' Cup Mile victory, was second in that category.

But Val Royal shares honors with the recently retired Bienamado as the best American-trained turf horse. Bienamado, who earned a 124 in the intermediate division for his win in the 1-1/4-mile Charles Whittingham Stakes, was also rated at 123 for taking the 1-3/4-mile San Juan Capistrano Handicap, a mark which gives him the world stayers crown over Milan, who was pegged at 122 for his St. Leger Stakes tally.

Older fillies fared rather poorly with Astra and Perfect Sting sharing honors at 120. Gourmet Girl, Spain, Starine and Tranquility Lake were next at 119, but you have to go all the way down to 117 to find the top rated older fillies from Europe in the sprinter Pipalong and Wellbeing, whose best effort was a nose loss to Mutafaweq (118) in the Coronation Cup.

Northerly, winner of the W.S. Cox Plate, is Australia's top rated horse at 122, the same mark awarded Hong Kong champion, Fairy King Prawn.

At 130, Point Given took a narrow one-pound decision over Galileo, the dual Derby winner who defeated Fantastic Light in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Galileo, who also earned a 128 for his head loss to Fantastic Light in the Irish Champion Stakes, had four pounds to spare over Milan to take European three-year-old honors.

Next among the sophomore generation came Breeders' Cup Sprint champ Squirtle Squirt, whose 126 rating ranks him as the world's leading sprinter as well as the third highest 3-year-old in the world behind only Point Given and Galileo.

Kurofune, the clear, record-setting winner of a Grade 3 mile on dirt in Japan as well as the 1-5/16-mile Japan Cup Dirt, earned a 125 rating for both those efforts to make him the highest rated horse in the world outside of Europe and North America, two pounds better than Japanese Derby and Japan Cup winner Jungle Pocket, and three pounds better than Hong Kong Mile winner Eishin Preston.

At 125, Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos is ranked five pounds lower than Point Given, a mark he shares with European champion sprinter Mozart. Banks Hill is the highweight 3-year-old filly at 123 and, in fact, is the highest rated female of any age thanks to her thrashing of the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The Andre Fabre-trainee is rated one pound better than the speedy Xtra Heat, whose 122 makes her the leading filly of her generation in America by a pound over Flute and by two pounds over the inseparable quartet of Exogenous, Fleet Renee, Golden Ballet and Unbridled Elaine, who are all on the same mark as French Oaks winner and Arc runner-up Aquarelliste. By comparison, three-time Group/Grade 1 winner Lailani is rated at just 118.

Johannesburg, who won Group 1 races in Ireland, France and England prior to his Breeders' Cup Juvenile score, has a four-pound edge over stablemate Hawk Wing and the Mick Channon-trained juvenile filly champ Queen's Logic, the undefeated winner of a Group 3, a Group 2 and a Group 1. Although the 2-year-old ratings contain European horses only, there can be little doubt that Johannesburg, whose trainer Aidan O'Brien had seven of the top fourteen rated juveniles, is a genuine world champion.

His 126 is the highest 2-year-old rating on the International Classification since 1997 when Xaar was weighted at 127. By comparison, Celtic Swing in 1994 and Arazi in 1990 were both pegged at 130.

Five-time Grade 1 winner Point Given, who earned his 130 rating in the Belmont Stakes, does not compare well with recent 3-year-old champions as Sinndar came in at 132 in 2000, Montjeu at 135 in 1999, and Peintre Celebre at 137 in 1997. But those three all had the chance to prove their talent against older horses with victories in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, while injury denied Point Given the opportunity of meeting and beating his elders.

Sakhee's 133 is a moderate figure compared to the highweight older horses of the past six years: Dubai Millennium 134, Daylami 135, Skip Away 131, Pilsudski 134 and Cigar, who was rated 135 in 1996, and 132 in 1995.

for the complete 2001 International Classification.