04/28/2014 3:50PM

Letter to the editor: All qualifying races should have generic restrictions


There is a practice that threatens our racing industry – that of creating non-generic restrictions to the entrance requirements for a graded race. This year's Kentucky Derby is an example.

Graded races are to be "open" races where the conditions are generic and apply equally to everyone.  They are not to be restrictive by state or specific track. The American Graded Stakes Committee should remove the grading of the Kentucky Derby for any years where this has been the practice. If we don't police this aspect of what graded races mean, then our industry will degrade into one of track wars.  Next, the Belmont Stakes will be giving out points, and California tracks will be given zero points for their races, and the wars will be on.

Examples of generic practices when using a purse or point system are:

• Points vary for finish position in the race – first, second, third, etc. (cutoff is permitted as to only give awards for the top three)

• Points vary for qualifying race grade – 1, 2, 3, and ungraded open races (cutoff is permitted as in only graded races)

• Points vary by age – one set of points for 2-year-old races, a different set of races for 3-year-olds  (could be made by days, weeks, or months from the target race)

• Purse earnings – if earnings are used, percentages of purses are used in the formula (cutoffs could be employed as maximums so that the maximum a 2-year-old Grade 1 win is worth is X percent of $750,000)

The critical point is that these generic rules apply to every race across the country (and worldwide if that is a desire) equally. There is no discrimination against specific states or tracks.

Personally, for the Derby, I would like to see purse earnings used with A) a fixed set of percentages by grade, a maximum qualifying purse by grade, and a multiplier that uses whole months before the target date as an inverse multiplier (divisor) so that a Grade 1 win in April of a 3-year-old year is worth more than one in December or July of a 2-year-old year. Recency has always been an acceptable, generically applied factor in setting race conditions.

But regardless, all qualifying rules must be generic. Otherwise, the race should be deemed "restricted" by the American Graded Stakes Committee and should not be awarded a grade.

Jay W. Lord
Nottingham, Pa.