Weep No More For Graded Stakes Committee

The weeping is over. The complaining fruitless. So just accept the direction Thoroughbred Racing is heading. The American Graded Stakes Committee is no doubt comprised of knowledgeable, intelligent people who know what they are doing and follow their formulas and equations with great awareness when juggling graded stakes, especially those rated grade 1.

So when it is concluded that prestigious distance races like the Stephen Foster Handicap and Beldame Stakes no longer are worthy of grade 1 status, along with three other two turn races, and should be replaced by three sprints, who are we to argue. We know what direction we're heading and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

It was decided that the Stephen Foster no longer should have grade 1 status even though five of its winners since 2005 won the Breeders' Cup Classic, the two most recent being in 2017 and 2013, and three of those five were voted Horse of the Year. Another Foster winner in that time frame also won the Santa Anita Handicap and Jockey Club Gold Cup. It is more appropriate to replace it with the Jaipur Stakes, a six-furlong turf race. We get it. And we also get that the races, through some equation,are measured by the overall quality of the field. And it simply was determined that the Stephen Foster, despite producing so many quality winners, was not considered grade 1 material any longer.

As for the Beldame, so what if they demoted a race that since 2010 has been won by champions or near champions Elate, Forever Unbridled, Princess of Sylmar, Royal Delta, Havre de Grace, and Life At Ten. It served the sport better to upgrade the Woody Stephens and Churchill Downs Stakes, two more sprints. Point well taken.

Notice I have not once criticized these decisions or even mildly complained about them. I have actually upgraded myself into a grade1 zen state of mind where frivolous matters are concerned. And I now regard all this as frivolous.

The Stephen Foster, Beldame, Santa Margarita, and Zenyatta Stakes, formerly the Lady’s Secret, will survive and go about their business as usual, just as the historic Suburban Handicap has under the grade 2 umbrella, despite being won by a Jockey Club Gold Cup and Whitney winner in 2018, a Travers winner in 2017, a Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up in 2016 and 2015, a two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner and Cigar Mile winner in 2013 and 2011, a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner in 2012, and a Jockey Club Gold Cup winner in 2010. And we’ll add a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Horse of the Year. and Hall of Famer in 2006.

What’s in a grade 1 title anyway? Let’s look at it this way: if you removed the "Sir" from Sir Winston Churchill he is still Winston Churchill. No damage in the slightest to his reputation.

So, once again, I am just stating fact with no opinions attached.

I have come to the realization that many of those big-name stakes I was weaned on and came to regard as top-quality, prestigious events are, like My Old Kentucky Home, far away.

Sorry you were downgraded, Stephen, that's just the way it is.

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