08/12/2009 12:00AM

Grade 1 minimum purse lowered


The minimum purse for a Grade 1 stakes race has been lowered from $300,000 to $250,000 by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in a temporary rule change, the committee announced Wednesday.

The rule change will remain in effect until 2011, when the requirement for the minimum purse will revert to $300,000, the committee said. The change is expected to help racetracks that are struggling to maintain purse levels during the recession by allowing tracks to retain Grade 1 ratings for stakes that may be targeted for purse cuts.

Also, the committee changed a rule regarding stakes that are put on hiatus by disqualifying stakes from any grade if they are not run for two or more years or in two of the previous three years, beginning in 2011. That requirement would prevent a track from suspending a stakes race every other year while still retaining a grade. The previous rule disqualified any stakes that had not been run in two consecutive years.

In addition, the committee has suspended a rule requiring racetracks to ban front-shoe toe grabs that exceed two millimeters in height. The committee passed the rule last year because of recommendations issued by the Jockey Club and other organizations, but horsemen have recently questioned whether the two-millimeter restriction is too low.