Graded stakes race
A graded stakes race is any thoroughbred horse race in the United States or Canada that is assigned graded status by the American Graded Stakes Committee in the U.S. or Canadian Graded Stakes Committee in Canada.
American Graded Stakes Committee
Formed in 1973 by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA), the purpose of the American Graded Stakes Committee is to provide owners and breeders of Thoroughbred horses a reliable guide to the relative quality of Thoroughbred bloodstock by identifying those U.S. races whose recent renewals have consistently attracted the highest quality competition. The Committee meets annually to evaluate and affirm the relative quality of these races, and issues its collective opinion in the form of ranked Grades: Grade I, Grade II, Grade III and Listed, with Grade I being the highest. Horses winning these graded races may reliably be considered as superior racing stock, and the breeding stock producing them as superior breeding stock.
The TOBA American Graded Stakes Committee is composed of 11 members: six TOBA Members, appointed by TOBA’s Chairman and confirmed by its trustees, with rotating three-year terms three of which three may be consecutive and five Racing Official Members, elected by the six TOBA Members, with three-year terms three of which may be consecutive.
The grading of races is conducted annually, usually at a meeting in late November. For the grading of races, committee members are provided information prepared by The Jockey Club Information Systems, Thoro-Graph and TOBA. Statistical information is provided for all races eligible to be graded, aiming at a Breeders’ Cup-to-Breeders’ Cup year. This information details statistics of graded and other eligible races.
Information supplied to the members of the Graded Stakes Committee includes statistical data for the last five years for all eligible races indicating quality of the field based on 1) points assigned for best performance in unrestricted black type stakes; 2) percentage of graded stakes winners in the field; 3) quality points achieved 4) the official charts of the five most recent renewals; 5) North American Rating Committee (NARC) Ratings; and (6) Thoro-Graph ratings. In addition, each renewal is identified by division, grade, distance, surface, purse, and number of starters. Members are expected to utilize this data, together with the knowledge drawn from their own experience, to make individual judgments as to the relative merit of the eligible races.
All grades issued, denied, or altered are voted upon by a quorum of the Committee at a duly called meeting. A quorum, for the purpose of grading races, is a majority of TOBA members on the Committee and a majority of Racing Officials on the Committee. Eight affirmative votes are required to upgrade any race and six affirmative votes are required to downgrade a race.
To aid the Committee in determining which races should be considered for grading, the Committee has adopted the following criteria for screening American races:
- A race is not considered for grading unless it is scheduled to have a total purse value (excluding state-bred supplements) of at least $75,000 for eligible and not assigned a status, $75,000 for Listed, $100,000 for Grade III, $150,000 for Grade II, and $250,000 for Grade I.
- A race is not considered for grading unless the testing performed on the samples collected from the horses selected from the race meets or exceeds the guidelines in the Committee’s drug testing protocol.
- Races are ineligible for grading if, at a minimum, the provisions of the Association of Racing Commissioners International model rules on androgenic-anabolic steroids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are not adopted.
- Races are not graded unless they have had two previous runnings under fundamentally the same conditions, for the same division of horses, and meeting the minimum purse requirements.
- Races will be ineligible for grading if conditions for competing in them include restrictive provisions relative to which horses may enter, other than by sex or age. A race is regarded as a restricted race if any of its conditions for entry would tend to exclude better horses while allowing participation by lesser horses.
- If a graded or eligible race is altered materially in age, sex, eligibility, racetrack location, or purse, or is substantially changed on the calendar (60 or more days), this will prompt a review and may result in a change in grade. (If it is regarded as a new race, it must be run two years before it can be considered for grading.) If a race is not run for two or more years or has not run in two of the last three years, it is ineligible for grading. If a race is scheduled to be moved from dirt to turf or vice versa, or if its distance is altered (a) by more than one-quarter mile, or (b) from sprint distance (less than one mile) to route distance (one mile or greater) or vice versa, it will be considered a new race and is ineligible for grading until run twice under the new conditions. However, the Committee will review any such change and may decide to restore a race’s eligibility. Stakes races that are eligible for grading must appear in the track’s published stakes book. “Overnight” races are not eligible for grading.