01/27/2011 10:52AM

Uncle Mo, Awesome Feather top Experimental Free Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Awesome Feather is the highest weighted filly on the Experimental Free Handicap at 123 pounds.

The Jockey Club announced Thursday morning that Uncle Mo has been assigned 128 pounds atop the Experimental Free Handicap for colts and geldings of 2010, marking the highest impost in 13 years, while Awesome Feather has been named the 123-pound highweight in the filly division.

The 128 pounds for Uncle Mo, the divisional Eclipse Award winner and the early favorite for the 137th Kentucky Derby on May 7, is the same as what was assigned to Favorite Trick in 1997, when he was named Horse of the Year.

“We just thought he was superior,” said Ben Huffman, the Churchill Downs and Keeneland racing secretary who comprised the Experimental weighting committee along with P.J. Campo of the New York Racing Association and Tom Robbins of Del Mar. “He was very impressive, to the point that we thought he really stood out.”

RANKINGS: View the entire Experimental Free Handicap

Every year since 1935, The Jockey Club has assigned weights for the Experimental Free Handicap, a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 miles on dirt. In 1985, the organization began weighting fillies separately. The lists are assigned strictly according to 2-year-old form and do not purport to speculate on future performance.

Uncle Mo is owned by Repole Stable and trained by Todd Pletcher. The colt was never seriously challenged in winning three races last year, ending with a resounding 4 1/4-length victory in the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill. The son of Indian Charlie is currently in training with Pletcher at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.

The highest weight ever assigned a 2-year-old in the Experimental was 132 pounds to Count Fleet, winner of the 1943 Triple Crown.

Eclipse winner Awesome Feather also went unbeaten last year, ending her six-race campaign with a 2 1/4-length triumph in the Nov. 5 BC Juvenile Fillies. Owned at the time by the Jacks or Better Farm of Fred Brei and trained by Stanley Gold, the daughter of Awesome of Course was purchased at auction shortly after the Breeders’ Cup by Frank Stronach and is now at Palm Meadows with trainer Chad Brown.

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Following Uncle Mo atop the 2010 Experimental list are To Honor and Serve (123), Boys At Tosconova (122), Comma to the Top (121), and Pluck (121). Next after Awesome Feather among the fillies are More Than Real (120), Turbulent Descent (120), A Z Warrior (119), and R Heat Lightning (119).

There were 99 males and 92 fillies weighted for 2010. To be eligible, a 2-year-old had to finish fourth or better in graded or non-restricted races in the United States with a value of at least $75,000.

The last Experimental highweight to win the Kentucky Derby was Street Sense, who led the 2006 list before capturing the Derby the following spring. Last year, the co-highweights atop the Experimental were Lookin At Lucky and Vale of York with 126 pounds each.

The traditional benchmark for the Experimental is 126 pounds for males and 123 for fillies, although in some cases, such as with Uncle Mo, those standards are altered.