Updated on 09/16/2011 8:46AM

3 stakes upgraded to Grade 1

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Three races - the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park, the Diana Handicap at Saratoga, and the Triple Bend Handicap at Hollywood Park - will be upgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 1 in 2003, according to the committee that determines the grades of U.S. races.

The committee, which met earlier this week, upgraded a total of 16 races, and allowed one race, the Illinois Derby, to retain its Grade 2 rating after warning in 2001 that it faced a downgrade. The committee downgraded 14 races, including three Grade 1's: the Gulfstream Park Handicap at Gulfstream, the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood, and the Oaklawn Park Handicap at Oaklawn.

All of the new grades will take effect for the 2003 running of the races, according to the Thorough-bred Owners and Breeders Association, which oversees the grading process.

The committee met on Monday and Tuesday in Lexington, Ky., to review the status of 741 U.S. races that are eligible to be graded. To be eligible for grading, a stakes race must be unrestricted (except by sex) and have a purse of at least $75,000.

According to figures provided by TOBA, 487 of the 741 eligible races are graded, or 65.7 percent. The 101 Grade 1 races comprise 21 percent of that total; the 155 Grade 2 races comprise 32 percent; and the 231 Grade 3 races comprise 47 percent.

Grades are used for a variety of purposes, but they were initially developed to aid the commercial breeding industry, which wanted a way to determine the relative strength of stakes races for inclusion in auction catalog pages. The grades are also used by racetracks as a marketing tool, both to attract crowds and horses.

Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and Calder Race Course in Miami each had three of its races upgraded. Aqueduct and Oaklawn Park were hardest hit, with three downgrades each. Aqueduct also had one race, the Toboggan Handicap, upgraded.

Three races were upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2: the Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park, the Best Pal Stakes at Del Mar, and the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Three races were downgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 3: the Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands, the Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park, and the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita.

Most of the upgrades and downgrades affected races for older horses. Of the 30 races that were changed, 16 were races for older horses.

Races Upgraded

* Grade 2 to Grade 1

STAKETRACK

Suburban HandicapBelmont Park

Triple Bend HandicapHollywood Park

Diana HandicapSaratoga

* Grade 3 to Grade 2

Delaware HandicapDelaware Park

Best Pal StakesDel Mar

Silverbulletday StakesFair Grounds

* Ungraded to Grade 3

Toboggan HandicapAqueduct

Carry Back StakesCalder Race Course

Spend a Buck HandicapCalder Race Course

Smile Sprint StakesCalder Race Course

Lecomte StakesFair Grounds

Whirlaway HandicapFair Grounds

Transylvania StakesKeeneland

Sycamore StakesKeeneland

Shakertown StakesKeeneland

WinStar Distaff HandicapLone Star

* Retains Grade 2

Illinois DerbySportsman's Park

Races Downgraded

* Grade 1 to Grade 2

STAKETRACK

Gulfstream Park HandicapGulfstream Park

Beverly Hills HandicapHollywood Park

Oaklawn Park HandicapOaklawn Park

* Grade 2 to Grade 3

Pegasus HandicapMeadowlands

Philip H. Iselin HandicapMonmouth

San Bernardino HandicapSanta Anita

* Grade 3 to Ungraded

Rare Treat HandicapAqueduct

Stymie HandicapAqueduct

Gallant Fox HandicapAqueduct

Cowdin StakesBelmont

Ascot HandicapBay Meadows

Tanforan HandicapGolden Gate

Honeybee StakesOaklawn Park

Rebel StakesOaklawn Park