American Graded Stakes Standings brought to you by Keeneland: Do New BC Races Make the Grade?

by | 11.17.2010 | 12:48am

The Breeders' Cup championships are just over one week away, and with much of our time spent hoofing it from Lexington to Louisville to raise money for Breeders' Cup Charities, rather than go through the standings of leaders of American Graded Stakes winners, I'd like to pose a question to readers:

Should the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association's Graded Stakes Committee have waived its rules—as was done when the Breeders' Cup was inaugurated in 1984–and granted all of the new Breeders' Cup races Grade 1 status?

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By doing so, the committee might have made some of the new races (Marathon, Grade 3; Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Fillies Turf, which are Grade 2; and Turf Sprint, Grade 2) more attractive to owners, since winning a Grade 1 race can offer a significant boost to a stallion prospect or broodmare. But, on the other, if the committee followed the criteria used to grade stakes, some of theses races simply would not qualify under TOBA's Graded Stakes Committee guidelines.

I don't think there is any question that the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Fillies Turf are the best races for their respective divisions, but should 2-year-olds racing on turf even have a Grade 1 race? I'll reserve my opinions and let readers sound off.

  • Mike in SB

    The Breeders Cup is our championship day of racing. All the races should be Grade 1

  • Sysonby

    The Dirt Mile (which will be run next weekend for the first time ever at ONE MILE ON DIRT) is a disaster. Unlike Europe, we really don’t have a “miler” division. Yes the Met Mile and Cigar Mile are considered important but most of our dirt mile races are of little consequence and offering a “championship” race for a division no one is calling for means we get second tier horses who can’t get 10f or don’t like grass.
    Thus we have debates about whether Mine That Bird (winless this year and never close) or Aikenike (2x allowance winner this year) belong in the BCDM. Calling a race a championship or G1 event doesn’t make it so.

    The Marathon is even worse. Most of our “marathon” horses drift back and forth from $40k claimers to bizarre pldders events that look like steeplechases with no jump, on dirt. Are any of those horses of such exceptional quality as to be worthy of G1 status?

    The F/M sprint was long overdue and was the only “new” event that had a pre-made division for which it could be called a championship. The Juvie grassers have proven interesting and in fact, the division has begun to spring up around it. I like the turf sprints but I do see a similarity between them and the Marathon in that the division is broad, but not deep. Two years ago Rick Dutrow has a nice grass sprinter and when asked why he was trying the BC with him he said (I paraphrase) “I could run him there for a million or pop him in a $35k claimer at Belmont.” It was true. Two races after the Cup, he was in for a $40k tag.

  • Mike in SB wrote:

    The Breeders Cup is our championship day of racing


    Such a shame the Breeders Cup would not allow for
    Rachel and Zenyatta to settle the championship on a traditional and equitable racing surface.

    No matter.
    I am however, looking forward to the return of the Dirt Mile – on the dirt.

    And at the precise 1 mile distance and not something generous like 1 mile and 70 yards.
    Only then can these races be worthy of Grade 1 status.

  • south side

    Marathon is by far the worst race. 13/4 miles on dirt? There is not a division in any country in the world for that surface/distance.

  • FourCats

    While I don’t agree with the expansion of the BC to include all of these extra races, I do agree with Mike in SB that all BC races should be G1.

    As for Sysonby’s comment implying that the Marathon horses are not really G1 horses, that is probably true. But I would like to see our racing industry move back towards distance racing and away from sprints. Having a long-distance race such as the Marathon classified as G1 gives the breeders some motivation to breed distance-loving horses.

  • Craig

    Maybe the Graded Stakes committee should look at how the new races have diluted the quality of the orriginal BC races and consider down-grading some of them. Now the BC Sprint is a low quality affair with some of the runners competing in the turf sprint, filly and mare sprint and the dirt mile. Some Classic runners are now running in the Dirt Mile making the classic a lower quality race.
    Diluting the quality just results in an inferior championships where the horses do not need to beat a great field to be considered a G1 winner.

  • bob Hope

    I applaud the value and the ability of the Paulick Report to indulge in “third rail” politics. The alphabets can’t touch these subjects that constitute the imperiled backbone of our sport and industry! Unfortunately we live in an era of political indulgence! When we appoint unqualified people we get unqualified decisions! Should the core values of pedigree and graded stakes be polluted because they want to create two pic 6’s and a carryover. The graded stakes committee should be anchored by a few learned folks not tied to the politics of the day that could receive recommendations from those relatively new industry folks that we hope are still learning about our little industry. Many of the GSC members fly home with little regard for our purpose. Our coveted shapers of policy should be insulated from those who denigrate pedigree daily by not knowing why we race! If we don’t return to the practice of tying catalogues to condition books we will perpetuate this tower of babel that currently exists between breeding and racing. If we complete the destruction of our stakes as we have for our allowance races, horse racing in this country will accelerate the slide to extinction, sponsored by the “minute men” custodians in charge of the family jewels!

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