04/29/2010 11:00PM

Pennsylvania stakes regain grades


The American Graded Stakes Committee has agreed to reinstate the grades from three stakes races run last year in Pennsylvania after the state's racing commission vowed to begin testing for banned levels of alkalinizing agents sometime this year, according to the committee and Pennsylvania regulators.

Under the decision, the 2009 Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park will be restored to Grade 2 races, and the 2009 Masters Stakes at Presque Isle Downs will be restored to Grade 3 status. The committee rescinded the grades in December after being informed that the tracks did not test the runners for alkalinizing agents, a requirement under committee rules.

The decision had drawn criticism from owners of the horses, who said they were unaware that the tracks did not have procedures in place to perform the tests before entering the races.

Justin Fleming, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commission, said Friday that the racing commission was in the process of formulating the rules and procedures that would be used to perform the tests. Fleming said, however, that the commission had not yet determined when the testing would begin.

Nearly every racetrack in the U.S. tests for excess levels of alkalinizing agents, which may be typically administered in a prerace solution of baking soda and other ingredients that is commonly referred to as a milkshake.