TOBA Releases Changes To 2017 American Graded Stakes Schedule

by | 12.02.2016 | 11:47am
Outwork edges Trojan Nation in this year's Grade 1 Wood Memorial, a race downgraded to Grade 2 for 2017

The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association today presented its listing of U.S. Graded and Listed Stakes Races for 2017, the results of its annual grading session conducted Nov. 30 in Lexington. The Committee reviewed 790 unrestricted U.S. stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000, and assigned Graded status to 464 of them, the same as were graded in 2016, and Listed status to 172 races.

Five Graded races were upgraded; eight new Grade III races were named; 23 new Listed races were upgraded from non-Listed Black Type status. Fourteen races which carried Graded or Listed status in 2016 are no longer eligible for grading.

One race was upgraded to Grade I status for 2017: the Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing. Three races were downgraded from Grade I to Grade II for 2017: the Wood Memorial S. at Aqueduct, Mother Goose S. at Belmont Park and Toyota Blue Grass S. at Keeneland. Four races were upgraded to Grade II status for 2017: the Knickerbocker S. and Belmont Sprint Championship S. at Belmont Park, Woodford S. at Keeneland and Penn Mile S. at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

Ten races were downgraded from Grade II to Grade III in 2017: the Peter Pan S. at Belmont Park, Smile Sprint S. at Gulfstream Park, Indiana Derby and Indiana Oaks at Indiana Grand, Commonwealth Derby at Laurel Park, Los Alamitos Derby at Los Alamitos Race Course, Monmouth Cup S. at Monmouth Park, West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park and Lake George S. and With Anticipation S. at Saratoga.

Eight races were upgraded to Grade III status for 2017: the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational S., Intercontinental S. and Wonder Again S. at Belmont Park, Lukas Classic S. at Churchill Downs, Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf S. and Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint S. at Kentucky Downs, Desert Stormer II S. at Santa Anita Park and Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown Racino.

Four races were downgraded from Grade III to Listed status for 2017: the Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park, Old Hat S. at Gulfstream Park and Boiling Springs S. and Jersey Shore S. at Monmouth Park.

Twenty-three races were upgraded to Listed status for 2017: the Garland of Roses S. and Heavenly Prize Invitational S. at Aqueduct, Chelsey Flower S., Elusive Quality S., License Fee S., Memories of Silver S., Soaring Softly S., Temperence Hill Invitational S. and Wild Applause S. at Belmont Park, Open Mind S. at Churchill Downs, Sanibel Island H. and Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream Park, Dueling Grounds Derby and Exacta Systems Juvenile Fillies S. at Kentucky Downs, Safely Kept S. at Laurel Park, American Beauty S., Bachelor S. and Spring Fever S. at Oaklawn Park, Astra S., Mizdirection S. and Pasadena S. at Santa Anita Park, Smart N Fancy S. at Saratoga and Zia Park Oaks at Zia Park.

Ten races were downgraded from Listed to non-Listed Black Type status for 2017: the Sugar Maple S. and Wild and Wonderful S. at Charles Town, Alcatraz S. at Golden Gate Fields, Happy Ticket S. at Louisiana Downs, Mountaineer Juvenile S. at Mountaineer Park, Northern Spur S. at Oaklawn Park, My Juliet S. and Jostle S. at Parx Racing, Edward J. Debartolo Memorial S. at Remington Park and M2 Technology La Senorita S. at Retama Park.

The Arlington Oaks, Arlington Sprint S. and Washington Park H. at Arlington Park; Sweet and Sassy S. at Delaware Park; Memorial H. at Gulfstream Park; Hawthorne Derby at Hawthorne Race Course; Los Alamitos Mile S. at Los Alamitos Race Course; Mountaineer Mile S. at Mountaineer Park; Cornucopia S. and Auld Lang Syne S. at Parx Racing; Inaugural S. and Windward S. at Presque Isle Downs; and American Beauty S. and Strub S. at Santa Anita Park were not eligible for grading in 2017.

Following is a summary breakdown of all grade levels and a complete list of all upgraded and downgraded U.S. races for the 2017 racing season as well as the complete list of 2017 Graded and Listed stakes.

2017 Graded Stakes Number % Graded % Eligible Change from 2016
Grade I 107 23.1% -2
Grade II 128 27.6% -5
Grade III 229 49.4% +7
All Graded 464 58.7%
Listed 172 21.8%
Non-Listed Eligible 154 19.5%
All Gr., L & NLE Races 790


Dr. J. David  Richardson is chairman of the American Graded Stakes Committee. Other committee members include Barbara Banke, Reynolds Bell Jr., Craig Bernick, Everett Dobson, and J. Michael O'Farrell representing the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; and racing officials Georganne Hale of the Maryland Jockey Club, Rick Hammerle of Santa Anita Park, Ben Huffman of Churchill Downs and Keeneland, Martin Panza of the New York Racing Association, and Tom Robbins of Del Mar.

  • Rick Gold

    We can debate which races should or shouldn’t be downgraded but it’s hard to quibble with the basic direction the AGSC is taking. I’ve always found it a bit silly that a horse that wasn’t even sound enough to make it to the first Saturday in May could retire as a Grade 1 winner. If I could wave a magic wand, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks would be the first opportunities to win a Grade 1. We need to encourage and reward longevity; ultimately the breed and the sport will benefit.

    • Concerned Observer

      An interesting point, worth consideration.

    • hadrianmarcus

      Absolutely. No G1’s for 3yo’s before the Kentucky Derby…leaving three (Haskell, Travers and Penn) after the Triple Crown races. No two-year-old G1’s before the Breeders Cup Juvenile…and maybe two after…like the Hollywood/Cashcall/Los Al Futurity and push the Champagne back to post BC.. Do the same for the fillies. You would eliminate a lot of cheap Grade Ones, encourage the sport to embrace the Handicap Division to get those Grade Ones and force horses to complete for six G1’s during the 3YO year rather than dodge and select. And finally, set a minimum of $500,000 (or more) purse for every Grade One…so California can chose to pay to play at the G1 level or not.

      • Rick Gold

        Re my earlier comment, I don’t see a case for any 2yo races being Grade 1, with the possible exception of the BC Juvenile. It just encourages unsound and/or unproven horses to make an early exit to the breeding farm.

      • Curt Muth

        ” encourage the sport to embrace the Handicap Division”

        What Handicaps? The US don’t have anything remotely resembling handicap racing, what there is is races where the racing secretary hands out weight according to who he wants in the race. For a handicap division to be real you would need some form of “timeform” that the weights can be based on.

  • Equalizer524

    The graded stakes process badly needs transparency. Numbers and formulas used to evaluate stakes for grading should be publicly available to anyone with an interest.

    • Curt Muth

      It is published

      toba dot org/graded-stakes/

    • Nice rant…not. Do a little research next time.

  • Race fan

    Give Ohio derby a grade and downgrade some others pathetic what did that cost them their just saying.

    • john

      Ohio Derby is 500K….should be graded stake….race has a long history and had a lot of prestige years back.

    • hadrianmarcus

      Let me quote from the article above…”Eight races were upgraded to Grade III status for 2017 (including) Ohio Derby at JACK Thistledown Racino.”

  • Cliff Kobland

    While I realize purses are not part of the equation in establishing grading I still find it strange.What about the common adage “follow the money” where by the connections of quality animals would naturally opt for the richer races. I see this all the time where SoCal grade 2s & 3s generally have between 50 to up 200k lower purses than NYRA. I’m not an owner but seems to me if I had a competitive graded runner I’d go where the money is. Of course the counter position is that the richer graded races at NYRA should draw more elite fields so why not look for balck type in cheaper races that should have easier fields. But if that’s the case, how come these ‘cheaper’ graded events keep their graded status? Seems to be a catch 22.

    • “Follow the money” is from the world of crime investigations, not racing! There are different types of owners with different agendas. Breeders who race, for example, invariably go where the prestige is, not the money.

    • Curt Muth

      Quality of the horses who ran in the race are the main consideration in determining what race get’s grade status ( California seams to be an exception to the rule, there it only takes 1 quality horse where as in the rest of the USA it is the 4 top horses )

  • Race fan

    Did any of the Ohio derby horses win a race after the derby maybe just war story a never won 3 at jack thistledown 500,000 slot money does not make a grade

  • peggy conroy

    Sad to see the old classics like the Wood Memorial and Blue Grass downgraded–too bad change isn’t always for the better such as drug free racing for all. Every horse person has his own pet peeve. Small NY breeders wish we had the real NY bred program back when the sire had to be NY based stallion.

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