06/21/2012 12:18PM

World Thoroughbred Rankings: How they assess the best


The World Thoroughbred Rankings, published throughout the year and culminating in a year-end summation, attempt to quantify the performance level of horses throughout the world. The rankings, which began in 2004, are a product of an international panel of experts put together by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, an organization with roots dating back to 1961.

The rankings mirror the function performed in many countries by a national handicapper, whose job it is to assign a numerical handicap to all the horses who race in that country. A handicapper analyzes how a horse has performed against others with an established handicap (form charts) and then assigns a performance rating for a particular race. For instance, Frankel’s 138 represents his performance in the J.T. Lockinge Stakes.

Rankings also are categorized according to surface, making note of leading performances on dirt, turf, and synthetic. The highest-rated dirt horse in the world is I’ll Have Another, whose Preakness was rated 126. Monterosso also was rated 126 winning the Dubai World Cup, the highest synthetic-surface rating so far this year.

Like any effort to quantify performance, the rankings lean heavily on subjectivity, and the attempt to rank performance over vastly differing racing surfaces and track configurations seems almost impossibly complex. But while the World Thoroughbred Rankings are criticized, they are the most cohesive attempt yet to present a global picture of Thoroughbred performance.

World Thoroughbred Rankings

Rank Horse Race Rating
1. Frankel (GB) JLT Lockinge (G1) 138
2. Black Caviar (AUS) Coolmore Lightning (G1) 130
3. Cirrus des Aigles (FR) Prix Ganay (G1) 128
4. I'll Have Another (USA) Preakness (G1) 126
4. Monterosso (GB) Dubai World Cup (G1) 126
6. Bodemeister (USA) Preakness (G1) 125
6. Cityscape (GB) Dubai Duty Free (G1) 125
6. Excelebration (IRE) JLT Lockinge (G1) 125
6. Hay List (IRE) Newmarket Handicap (G1) 125
6. So You Think (NZ) Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) 125
6. Wise Dan (USA) Ben Ali (G3) 125

 *Rankings released May 28