Four Midlantic stakes downgraded for 2018
by Frank Vespe
Four mid-Atlantic races were among those downgraded during the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association’s annual grading session conducted November 28 and 29 in Lexington.
Those four were the Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park, downgraded from Grade 1 to Grade 2; the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup at Laurel Park, which will be a Grade 3 next year after having been a Grade 2; and a pair of races at Monmouth Park, the Betfair.com Pegasus S. and Cliff Hanger S., both of which will be listed stakes next year after having been Grade 3 events this year.
The Committee reviewed 806 U.S. stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000, and assigned Graded status to 455 of them, nine fewer than were graded in 2017, and Listed status to 177 races. Seven Graded races were upgraded; five new Grade III races were named; 18 new Listed races were upgraded from non-Listed Black Type status. Sixteen races which carried Graded or Listed status in 2017 are no longer eligible for grading.
No race was upgraded to Grade I status for 2018.
The Delaware Handicap had attained Grade 1 status in 2013 after more than two decades as a Grade 2 or Grade 3 event. Since being elevated, its winners have included champions Royal Delta (2013) and Songbird (this year), as well as multiple Grade 1 winners I’m a Chatterbox, Belle Gallantey, and Sheer Drama. But all of that wasn’t enough to convince the committee to keep it as a Grade 1.
Seven races were upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2 for 2018, while seven others were downgraded from Grade 2 to Grade 3.
The list of those included the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup S. at Laurel Park. That race, which began life as the Colonial Turf Cup restricted to three-year-olds, has been contested the last three years at Laurel for horses three and up, the last two at one mile.
The ranks of Grade 3 races saw five events upgraded to that status, while 11 others lost it and were downgraded to listed. Those downgraded include the Betfair.com Pegasus S. and Cliff Hanger S. at Monmouth Park.
Of the dozen races upgraded to listed status for the coming year, three are contested in the mid-Atlantic. Those include the Maryland Stakes for two-year-olds at Laurel Park and a pair of route races for three and up: the Richard W. Small Stakes at Laurel Park and the Pennsylvania Derby Champion Stakes at Parx Racing.
A number of races were not eligible for grading for 2018. Those include: the Affectionately S. and Evening Attire S. at Aqueduct; Sixty Sails S. at Hawthorne Race Course; Super Derby, Super Derby Prelude S. and Unbridled S. at Louisiana Downs; Decathlon S., Elkwood S., Jersey Shore S., Lighthouse S., Monmouth Beach S., Sorority S. and Teddy Drone S. at Monmouth Park; Valley Forge S. at Parx Racing; Remington Park Sprint Cup S. at Remington Park; and Last Tycoon S. at Santa Anita Park.
All told, there are five Grade 1 races in the mid-Atlantic, seven Grade 2 events, 30 Grade 3 tests, and 33 races that are listed. Click here for the full list.