12/04/2009 1:00AM

Grades rescinded for Pennsylvania stakes


The American Graded Stakes Committee has rescinded the grades for three stakes races held in Pennsylvania in 2009 - the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, the Grade 2 Cotillion Stakes, and the Grade 3 Presque Isle Downs Masters - because horses that participated in the stakes were not tested for alkalizing agents, racing officials said late on Friday.

The three races are the only graded stakes races held in Pennsylvania. In making the decision to rescind the grades, the committee said in a memo sent out on Friday that "the testing performed on samples taken from horses participating in these races did not meet the requirements of the committee's drug-testing protocol."

The decision to rescind the grades means that the winners and placed horses will not receive black type for their performances in the races. The Pennsylvania Derby was won by Gone Astray, owned by the Phipps Stable; the Cotillion was won by Donver Stable's Careless Jewel; and the Presque Isle Downs Masters was won by Augustin Stable's Informed Decision, who went on to win the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint on Nov. 6.

Last year, the American Graded Stakes Committee, which assigns grades to stakes as a result of its own annual review, passed rules requiring racetracks or racing commissions to conduct tests for alkalizing agents - which are commonly called "milkshakes" - in order to retain their grades, among other requirements regarding shoeing and steroid rules.

Andrew Schweigardt, the secretary of the committee, said on Friday that he did not believe that owners of the horses would have been aware that the races were being run outside of the rules to comply with the graded stakes committee. He said that the committee asks all state racing commissions to provide a letter verifying that they conducted drug tests meeting the committee's requirements, and Pennsylvania said that it could not provide the letter last week.

"I didn't know it was an issue until just last week, so I doubt any owners knew about it," Schweigardt said.

Officials of Philadelphia Park and Presque Isle did not immediately respond to phone calls