12/04/2015 2:42PM

Saratoga's Fourstardave elevated to Grade 1 status for 2016


LEXINGTON, Ky. – The American Graded Stakes Committee has assigned grades to 464 races for the 2016 racing schedule, one more than last year, despite sharp contractions in the number of U.S. races held over the past three years.

One stakes, the Fourstardave at Saratoga in upstate New York, was upgraded to a Grade 1 from a Grade 2, the committee said. Two Grade 1 races, the Eddie Read Stakes at Del Mar and the Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita Park, were downgraded to Grade 2.

The full list of graded races was released on Friday, two days after the annual review meeting in Lexington of the American Graded Stakes Committee, which is administered by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. While the net loss of Grade 1 races and Grade 2 races was one in each category, three more races were assigned a Grade 3 rating than last year, leading to the net gain of one graded race for next year.

The number of graded stakes will increase despite a 5.4 percent decline in the number of races held so far this year when compared with last year. In 2014 and in 2013, the number of races at U.S. tracks declined 4.3 percent in each year, according to Jockey Club data, for a three-year decline from 43,139 to an estimated 39,000 races this year.

Andrew Schweigardt, the secretary of the committee, said that despite the overall decline in the number of races, the number of graded races in the U.S. still hovers around 1 percent of the total number of races held in the country, a percentage that he called standard among major racing countries. In 2014, when there were 455 grades assigned, there were 41,277 races held at U.S. tracks, for a graded-race percentage of 1.12 percent. If 2015’s rate of decline for overall races holds through the rest of the year, the graded-race rate will jump to 1.18 percent.

“They’re certainly cognizant of it,” Schweigardt said. “The sense among most of the members, or more than not, is that they are looking at each individual race and whether it should receive a grade or not.”

Five races were upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2: the Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill; the Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds; the Shakertown and Phoenix stakes at Keeneland; and the Hillsborough Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Six races were downgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 3: the Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct; the Futurity and Matron stakes at Belmont; the Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne; the Beaumont at Keeneland; and the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.

Four Grade 3 races were downgraded to listed and another Grade 3 race was canceled, while eight listed races were upgraded to Grade 3.

In total, 109 races were assigned a Grade 1, while 133 races were assigned a Grade 2. A total of 222 races were assigned a Grade 3.

John Boyes More than 1 year ago
Hey Anonymous .........................Im right behind you buddy ! The takeout has ruined racing, it should be called a day at the "GREED MILL" ".......................last week I hit a $22 horse and got a $29 exacta .................I shook my head and walked out ! I didnt even look at entires this weekend , Im losing interest fast . If I want to give away money, Ill send it to my charities , not idiot racetrack suits .
John Boyes More than 1 year ago
Funny how the West coast races get downgraded , yet we win the Derby year after year and heads up East Coast , DORTMUND is your new handicap leader !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been betting horses for fifty years. You would think the slimeballs at the NYRA would give the horse players a few races where there is no takeout. No, they just keep robbing the horse player with both hands. I don't care what they do, I quit and feel great about it.
Chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
No doubt that Wise Dan gets the credit for this... deservedly.