08/12/2013 4:32PM

American Graded Stakes Committee raises purse minimums for Grade 1, Grade 2 races

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The American Graded Stakes Committee has approved a policy that will require races to have a minimum $300,000 purse to be eligible for a Grade 1 and a minimum $200,000 purse to be eligible for a Grade 2, the committee announced Monday.

J. David Richardson, chairman of the committee, said in a release that the committee decided to raise the purse levels by $50,000 in each case because the requirements had not been raised in several years, at a time when subsidies from casinos in some states have boosted the value of overnight races considerably. In New York, for example, maiden special weights at Saratoga now have purses as high as $85,000.

“The committee felt it was important to have higher purses for our top-tier races,” Richardson said. “Many non-stakes races now have purses comparable to graded races, and we believe our best races should be set apart from the rest.”

Through the first seven months of this year, according to Equibase figures, purse distribution in the United States is down 1.1 percent compared to the first seven months of 2012.

The release also said that the committee intends to raise the minimum purse for a Grade 3 race to $150,000 in 2015. Currently, a Grade 3 race must have a $100,000 minimum purse, while listed races must have a purse of $75,000 or more. The release said that the committee will review minimum purses for listed races in 2015 as well.

Listed races are eligible to receive grades, but if a listed race is designated for a grade, the host track must raise the purse to the minimum for the grade to retain the designation.