So the American Graded Stakes Committee blew it again, surprise surprise. That's not really news, it's a recurring theme. There are 718 unrestricted stakes races run in North America and 67% (481) of them ended up being graded. 10 races were upgraded and 6 races were downgraded. We have three new G-1 races, the Maker's Mark Mile, Just A Game and the First Lady. All of them 8f races on the grass.
Every year we get more and more stakes races when what the game actually needs is movement in the opposite direction.
I think they need to downgrade a ton of races right away. Starting with the G-1 KY Derby preps. None of those races should be G-1's. The Derby is a G-1 and those are prep races. How the Graded Stakes committee can justify giving them equal status is beyond me.
One of the reasons why they have is because they always look back at the stakes at the end of the year and see which horses ran in what. Naturally a Derby winner comes out of one of those preps every year so in retrospect they look like G-1 quality. But for many horses its the first time they've been in G-1 company. They weren't G-1 horses when they ran in the race. A race should not be upgraded because its participants went on to fame. It should be upgraded because its participants are increasingly qualified before they enter the said race.
For instance if the top handicap horse in America enters the Brooklyn 5 years in a row then maybe it deserves to be upgraded.
Most 3yo stakes races conducted early in the year and virtually all 2yo stakes races are graded too highly. Most 2yo G-1 stakes races are half full of nothing more than maiden winners. Outside the Breeders Cup how many 2yo races really get G-1 quality fields? Maybe the Breeders Futurity or the Champagne but certainly not all the 2yo G-1's end up with G-1 fields.
The overabundance of graded stakes is to blame for small fields in prestigious races because horses can ship around the country and pick their spots. The AGSC also bears some of the responsibility for early retirements. If there were only 5 G-1 races for 3yo's all year long you might have to keep your horse around longer in order to win one of them. We all know that breeding value hinges on resumes of Graded Stakes so one way to combat retiring is to make it hard to earn Graded Stakes wins.
They get an annual chance to right the wrongs and once again they blew it.
On an unrelated note Kennedy's Corridor will be mirrored on the Thoroughbred Champions homepage starting tomorrow. There will still be benefits to visiting this site like the TCR rankings and other gems I put on the sidebar but most of the posts will be there as well.
I've been a member of TBC for nearly 7 years and have served as a moderator for much of that time. In addition to my blog there should be several others so be sure to check that out.