12/02/2010 4:01PM

American Graded Stakes Committee announces upgrades, downgrades for 2011

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The American Graded Stakes Committee has assigned lower grades to 15 graded stakes races to be run in 2011, eliminated grades for nine stakes, and upgraded the status of 10 races, moves that reflect the fewer number of races being held in the United States in the wake of a protracted decline in race days and foal crops.

The committee, which reviewed 689 unrestricted stakes races as part of its process to assign grades, upgraded one race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, to Grade 1 status, while downgrading one Grade 1 race, the Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship at Oak Tree at Hollywood Park. Another Grade 1 race, the Pimlico Special, was not run in 2010, so the race was stripped of its grading.

In total, four races were upgraded to Grade 2 from Grade 3, while five races were downgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 3. Two other Grade 2 races, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park and the Dahlia Handicap at Hollywood Park, were not run in 2010 and were stripped of their grades, for a net loss of three Grade 2 races.

Five races were upgraded to Grade 3 from ungraded status, while 10 races were downgraded from Grade 3 to ungraded. Another five Grade 3 races were stripped of their grades after being canceled in 2010.

With the upgrades and downgrades, 112 of the 689 eligible stakes races in 2011, or 23.6 percent, will carry a Grade 1. A total of 153 will carry a Grade 2, or 32.3 percent of the eligible stakes races, while 209 will carry a Grade 3, or 44.1 percent. The remainder of 215 eligible races will carry no grade.

The number of races held in the United States has declined from 51,304 in 2007 to 49,368 in 2009, a contraction of 3.7 percent, while the foal crop has declined from 34,268 in 2007 to an estimated 27,800 horses in 2010, a drop of 18.8 percent. The drops have led to pressure on the Graded Stakes Committee to lower the amount of graded stakes to reflect the reduced number of opportunities in U.S. racing for a smaller number of horses.

GRADED STAKES CHANGES FOR 2011

Upgrades

Grade 2 to Grade 1
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (T) - Churchill Downs*

Grade 3 to Grade 2
Presque Isle Downs Masters S. (T) - Presque Isle
With Anticipation S. (T) - Saratoga
Tampa Bay Derby - Tampa Bay Downs
Breeders’ Cup Marathon - Churchill Downs*

Ungraded to Grade 3
Jessamine S. - Keeneland
Marshua’s River S. (T) - Gulfstream Park
Charles Town Classic S. - Charles Town
Tampa Bay S. (T) - Tampa Bay Downs
Turf Monster S. (T) - Parx Racing

Downgrades

Grade 1 to Grade 2 (or ungraded)
Clement L. Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship S. (T) - Oak Tree
Pimlico Special** - Pimlico Racecourse

Grade 2 to Grade 3 (or ungraded)
Allaire DuPont Distaff H. - Pimlico
Lane’s End S. - Turfway Park
Lexington S. - Keeneland
Cornhusker H. - Prairie Meadows
San Francisco Mile H. (T) - Golden Gate Fields
Frank J. DeFrancis Memorial Dash** - Laurel Park
Dahlia H. (T)** - Hollywood Park

Grade 3 to ungraded
Florida Oaks - Tampa Bay Downs
Santa Paula S. - Santa Anita Park
Stage Door Betty H. - Calder Race Course
Lone Star Derby - Lone Star Park
Tropical Park Derby (T) - Calder Race Course
Chick Lang S. - Pimlico Racecourse
Memorial Day H. - Calder Race Course
Queens County H. - Aqueduct
Robert F. Carey Memorial H. (T) - Hawthorne Race Course
Kenny Noe Jr. H. - Calder Race Course
Massachusetts H.** - Suffolk Downs
Carleton F. Burke H. (T)** - Oak Tree
Sport Page H.** - Belmont Park
Hollywood Turf Express H. (T)** - Hollywood Park
Hawthorne H.** - Hollywood Park

*Scheduled for Churchill Downs in 2011; TBD for 2012 and beyond
**Ineligible for grading in 2011