08/22/2002 11:00PM

Graded minimums set


The American Graded Stakes Committee has established minimum purse requirements for graded races, challenging racetracks to meet the minimums by 2003 or face losing a grade.

Under the new rule, the minimum purse for a Grade 1 would be $200,000. A Grade 2 would require a $150,000 purse, while a Grade 3 would require a $100,000 purse. Breeders' Cup supplements can be counted toward the purse, but supplements for statebred runners cannot.

Members of the committee discussed the minimums at a meeting in Saratoga Springs early this month. Some racetrack members had objected to the minimums because they would require some purses to be raised.

Only four graded stakes run this year would not meet the new minimums. The Grade 1 San Carlos Handicap at Santa Anita had a purse of $150,000; the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes at Gulfstream had a purse of $100,000; and two Grade 3 stakes at Oaklawn, the Honey Bee and the Essex Handicap, had $75,000 purses.

The graded stakes committee said that racetracks will have one year to raise the purses to the minimum. Stakes that don't meet the new criteria will be downgraded beginning in 2004.