Open to all horses that have not won a horse race. There are different classes for specific age, and sex, for fillies only. Colts and geldings are allotted the same weight, with fillies getting a 5lb weight allowance if they line up against the males. Open maidens generally go to the top, best bred juvenile race horses from the top yards. Although the basic conditions of a maiden race are the same from track to track, it would be wrong to assume that all races are equal. Obviously there can be vastly differing levels of ability between runners competing in these events, as unlike handicaps, maiden horse races are not banded into classes to give an equal chance, and maiden races at different tracks can be vastly superior to other maiden races.
A look at some statistics from Newbury and Doncaster highlights this. Over 3 years, there were 104 2YO maiden races Ran at Newbury. 22% were won by horses who earned a Raceform rating of 90+, with 56% won by horses rating 80-90, and just 12% of winners rating lower than this. Garden Sheds Haydock Doncaster hosted 61 2YO maiden races, and just 8% earned a rating of 90+, with 45% rating 80-90, and a whopping 47% earning a rating lower than this. It is quite clear from this which maiden race You would rate higher.
Below is a list that I have compiled for classes of 2YO maiden horse races at varying tracks:
(A) Newbury and Ascot
(B) Newmarket Row/July.
Of course. that does not go to say that a high class juvenile cannot make a successful debut elsewhere, or that a runner up at Newbury is definitely superior to a runner up at Epsom, these are to be used as a guideline and not a definite rule. As with all things in life, there are always exceptions. And that is very true in horse racing.
The winners of maidens at the class A and B tracks will usually go on to contest Group races, where the best compete for coveted black type, and the horse racing blue bloods lay their claim for the vast stud fees to be justified when their racing career ends. Indeed some early season maiden races from Newmarket and Newbury tend to be group races in all but name only, and if you encounter such a race it can pay to follow the form of the other runners in their subsequent starts, and if you are lucky enough the general public wont catch on until all too late and you can be rewarded with a lot of winners at nice prices. However, in the horse racing world, time waits for no one, and as with most things, it wont take forever for the masses to latch on.
To use another example of the differing levels of class from track to track, take an average runner up from Newmarket against an average runner up from Haydock, and the difference could be expected to be as much as 2 seconds, around 10 lengths. That is a huge gulf in terms of class, and is equal to a Group1 performer running against a 0-90 handicapper off of level weights! Horse racing's very own David V Goliath!
A horse that finishes 2nd in a maiden race is taken to have the best form, but as the above illustrates, it can be very dependent on where the form has been achieved. Sometimes a well beaten 6th in a Newbury maiden is more than good enough for a Doncaster maiden, and it is always worth checking.
Generally, a horse that holds winning group race pretensions, should not remain a maiden for any longer than the 2nd run. A horse that remains so into their 3rd starts should be treated with a little more caution, and the original expectations be down graded, unless there are extremely good reasons. After all, you can always bump into a smarter horse in a good class maiden, but it would be extremely unlikely and unfortunate for it to happen 2 or 3 times. Indeed last season, 15/17 subsequent 2YO Group 1 or 2 winners won on their debuts. Of the 2 that lost, both made amends on their 2nd starts.
Whilst the Group race protagonists can usually be expected to win at the first time of asking, backing an unraced 2YO is still a risky proposition.
Since 2009, there have been 1, 431 2YO maiden races. Of those, 409 were making there debut, amounting to a win/race percentage of 28.5%. You do not have to be exceptional at maths to work out that leaves a whopping 71.5% of races going to a horse with one or more runs. That amounts to an impact value of 2.5, which rises to 3. 0 after May, which basically means a horse with experience is 3 times more likely to win than a horse making their debut. As statistics go in horse racing terms that is huge.
The percentage of races won by horses making their debut by month are:
September, 23. 8%.
As you can see, after May there is a big drop in wins, which rises in July slightly, due to the better horses turning out to make their debuts, and then drops off once again. If you are to consider backing a 2YO debutant, than I would at least suggest you do so only from the trainers listed below:
H. Candy 5/36 (13. 9%)
H. Cecil 11/50 (22%)
P. Cole 8/59 (13. 6%)
P. Chapple hyam 5/38 (13. 2%)
R. Hannon 36/280 (12. 9%)
R. M. Beckett 12/88 (13. 6%)
M. Jarvis 12/67 (17. 9%)
S. Bin Surroor 36/131 (27. 5%)
R. Fahey 23/124 (18. 5%).