01/29/2016 9:00AM

Canada upgrades Natalma Stakes to Grade 1

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Woodbine’s Natalma Stakes has been upgraded to Grade 1 status for the 2016 season by The Jockey Club of Canada.

The Natalma, a one-turn mile on the turf for 2-year old fillies, produced Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Catch a Glimpse in 2015. Other notable runners in recent editions of the Natalma include Grade 1 winners Stephanie’s Kitten, Dayatthespa, Hard Not to Like, Kitten’s Dumplings, and Spring in the Air, along with multiple graded stakes winner Don’t Leave Me.

The upgrade of the Natalma was the only change made to the Canadian graded stakes program by The Jockey Club of Canada, meaning a total of 44 graded stakes races will be run in the country in 2016. There will now be five Grade 1 races run in Canada this season: the Natalma Stakes, the Canadian International, the Woodbine Mile, the E. P. Taylor Stakes, and the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes. There will also be 15 Grade 2 races and 24 Grade 3 races.

Woodbine will hold 40 of the 44 graded stakes races to be run in Canada this season, including all five Grade 1’s. Hastings will hold three Grade 3 races: the British Columbia Derby, Ballerina Stakes, and B.C. Premier’s, while Northlands Park will host the Grade 3 Canadian Derby.

The Jockey Club of Canada’s Graded Stakes Committee evaluates and reviews the graded stakes in Canada annually, and determines whether races should be upgraded, downgraded, or remain the same based on the cumulative North American Racing Committee ratings for five consecutive years.