JC / Railbird

Graded Stakes

Stakes Inflation

Chris Rossi on the graded stakes bubble:

As foal crops have declined, so has the number of race days for a total of 6,250 race days lost since 2006. Yet the number of stakes awarded graded status has remained level: 475 awarded in 2006 and 474 awarded in 2011. This failure to adapt to the new racing landscape has resulted in an increase of 14% in the number of races awarded graded status.

The 2016 projection should strike fear in everyone involved in breeding and selling American Thoroughbreds. Without correction, short fields and ducking connections won’t be just the bane of bettors in the very near future.

(Neither the Paulick Report nor Equidaily like to pick up Raceday 360 pieces, but both should aggregate this one.)

Grading Process

The American Graded Stakes Committee released the list of 2011 graded stakes on Thursday, and aside from a slight contraction in overall numbers (13 races were dropped, a reduction of 2.7% from 2009), the most notable change was that the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was bumped from Grade 2 to Grade 1. Its companion race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf remained a Grade 2, prompting Steven Crist to write, “it makes you wonder if that race is a permanent part of the BC program,” and owner Bobby Flay — who won the 2010 Fillies Turf with More Than Real — to opine in today’s TDN that, “Clearly, this is a short-sighted mistake that can only be labeled as sexist.” It’s not. And it most likely means nothing as far as the BC’s future program. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was first run in 2007, first graded in 2009, and run as a Grade 2 for two years. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Fillies was first run in 2008, first graded in 2010, and has been run only one year as a graded race. There seems no reason to doubt that, true to pattern, the Fillies Turf will made a Grade 1 in 2012, after two runnings as a Grade 2.

Not on Track

Commenter o_crunk, reacting to Champions’ Day:

The season is getting more incoherent with these added changes and this is coming from a fan who follows racing on an everyday basis. If the top horses are going to continue a trend of running less and less and there’s lots of choices on the menu for them, then we can expect to see unfulfilled matchups, disillusioned hardcore fans, confused newbies and guessing games when it’s time to decide who was really best since it’s clear that it will not be decided on the track.

Read his whole comment, it’s nothing but good points.

The one effect of Champions’ Day on the Breeders’ Cup seems likely to be a reduction in the number of Euros shipping; 2011 could well be a low point with the debut of the new event at Ascot and the BC again at Churchill. Such would undermine the growing internationalism of the game, or at least, the aspect that has proved so enticing to fans and bettors, the match-up of top-class Euros against the best of the American runners.

As for running less and less, Ed DeRosa suggested on Big Event Blog that the coming smaller foal crops offer an opportunity to go drug free and reduce race dates. I’d add it’s a chance to trim the burgeoning graded stakes calendar.

After →