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Display Handicap

The Display Handicap was an American Thoroughbred horse race formerly run on Long Island, New York's Aqueduct Racetrack. It was for 3-year-olds and up, and in most years was held on the last day of racing in New York for that calendar year. It started on December 31 in 1976, when year-round racing was introduced in New York).

Originally known as the New York Handicap, its name was changed to the Display Handicap in 1955 (the name "New York Handicap" was later appended to another stakes race for fillies and mares three years old and up, and is now run on the grass, or turf course). The distance of the Display Handicap varied at different times, but was always at least 2 miles (3,219 m), and was run at 2¼ miles (3,621 m) from the late 1960s until its last running in 1990.

The race was named for Display, a son of Fair Play (as was the immortal Man O'War (#1 in the Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century). Display was widely regarded as one of the greatest Thoroughbred race horses of all time, noted for being able to carry heavy weights over marathon distances successfully. The Display Handicap was distinctive for the fact that many horses who normally ran in claiming races, but possessed abundant stamina, would be entered in it, and a few such horses went on to win the event. For example, in 1978, Seaney Bear nosed out Framarco, another horse who ran mostly in claiming races. They competed in one of the two divisions of the race which were run in that year, this circumstance being necessitated by the unusually high number of horses being nominated for the race. Although the race was for 3-year-olds and up, it was rare for a 3-year-old to win it: When In the Ruff won the 1983 running[1], he became the first 3-year-old winner of the Display since Dean Carl in 1963, and the first ever at the 2¼-mile distance.

Horses bred, and sometimes based, outside the United States often competed in the Display; and one such horse — the Argentine-bred Paraje — won it three years in a row in the early 1970s. Horses were also frequently shipped in from Canada to participate. The discontinuance of the Display Handicap after the 1990 running left the Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, run at 1¾ miles, as the longest stakes race run over the dirt in North America.

In the later years of its history, field sizes became progressively smaller, with only five starters in what would prove to be the final running in 1990.

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