Recently I have felt like a college student all over again. No, not keggers and dormitory life, I’ve been waiting for the grades to come in, and this time it wasn’t on Mrs. Kenny’s Chemistry final, but rather from The American Graded Stakes Committee. Today’s the day. They reviewed the unrestricted U.S. stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000, and assigned graded status to a total of 465 (slightly more than two-thirds) of them for 2012. This total is nine less than the 474 that were graded in 2011. I like to take this information and scan the performances of individual tracks. Which tracks were the winners? Which tracks were the losers? On the day the grading is done, ZATT takes it one step farther and hands out more grades.
(A+) Parx Racing - Big congratulations go out to the oval, formally known as Philadelphia Park, for having four notable upgrades without a single downgrade. The Cotillion is now a grade 1, while the Smarty Jones, Greenwood Cup and the Dr. James Penny Memorial are now graded stakes.
(A) The Breeders’ Cup - The traveling championships that are the Breeders’ Cup saw two of its newer races raised, the Juvenile Fillies Turf and the Turf Sprint both moved up to a grade 1, while no Breeders’ Cup stakes was downgraded.
(B+) Charles Town - The West Virginia racetrack kept the momentum of 2011 going with the upgrade of their signature race, the Charles Town Classic, from a grade 3 to a grade 2.
(B+) Churchill Downs – Not a ton of movement for the iconic Louisville oval, but the lone movement was positive, with the Alysheba moving from a grade 3 to grade 2.
(B+) Monmouth Park – The Jersey shore oval received a thumbs-up on their turf program as the Monmouth Stakes made its way up to a grade 2.
(B) Gulfstream Park – While remaining constant in total graded stakes, the South Florida track had two turf stakes (Pan American and Honey Fox) raised to grade 2 status, while only dropping once as the Swale Stakes fell to a grade 3.
(B-) Keeneland – Despite having a pair of races deemed not eligible for grading in 2012, the beautiful Lexington landmark gained another grade 1, with the upgrade of the Jenny Wiley for turf loving distaffers.
(C) Saratoga - America‘s top race meet added a graded stakes in 2012, as the James Marvin will now be a grade 3, but lost a little prestige when two traditional grade ones (Ruffian and Hopeful) were downgraded to grade 2 status.
(C) Calder Race Course – The only movement for the Miami oval was a demotion from grade 2, to grade 3, for the Carry Back.
(C) Arlington Park – My home track almost retained status quo, having only the American Derby, fall from a grade 2, to a grade 3 in 2012.
(C-) Del Mar – Not much going on for the beautiful seaside playground other than having the Pat O’ Brien drop from elite grade 1 status, down to grade 2.
(C-) Lone Star Park - Took a hit today, as a signature race, The Ouija Board Distaff becomes an ungraded stakes next year.
(C-) Delaware Park – Also lost one of their graded stakes when the Endine Stakes was dropped from graded status.
(D) Santa Anita – The Southern California will welcome back the Breeders’ Cup in 2012, but as for their own schedule, it was not quite as positive. The Providencia was downgraded to a grade 3, and two other stakes will not be eligible for a graded status next year.
(D) Belmont – Two races became ineligible for grading in 2012, while the Shuvee Handicap fell from a grade 2, to a grade 3 in 2012.
(F) Hollywood Park – Once again, there was no good news for Hollywood Park. Three stakes became ineligible for grading in 2012, while the Hollywood Turf Cup was dropped from recognition as a grade 1 race.