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A Long Time Coming

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The American Graded Stakes Committee announced its designations for the 2010 racing calendar and for the first time ever, the Arkansas Derby will be considered a Grade I event. This has been a long time coming for a race that is year-after-year one of the key Kentucky Derby preps. The race should have received Grade 1 stats after the Smarty Jones/Afleet Alex years, but I suppose it's better late than never.

The rest of the new grades are below.

Race

Track

Old Grade

New Grade

Arkansas Derby

Oaklawn

2

1

Clark Handicap

Churchill Downs

2

1

Vanderbilt

Saratoga

2

1

American Turf Stakes

Churchill Downs

3

2

Pocahontas Stakes

Churchill Downs

3

2

Breeders' Cup Juv. Filly Turf

Various

3

2

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint

Various

3

2

Risen Star

Fair Grounds

3

2

Sir Beaufort Stakes

Santa Anita

3

2

Sunland Park Derby

Sunland

Ungraded

3

Breeders' Cup Marathon

Various

Ungraded

3

Cougar II Handicap

Del Mar

Ungraded

3

Ft. Lauderdale Stakes

Gulfstream

Ungraded

3

Iowa Derby

Prairie Meadows

Ungraded

3

Monmouth Stakes

Monmouth

Ungraded

3

Citation Handicap

Hollywood

1

2

Frank J. De Francis Memorial

Laurel

1

2

Go for Wand

Saratoga

1

2

John C. Mabee Stakes

Del Mar

1

2

Santa Maria Handicap

Santa Anita

1

2

Bed O'Roses

Aqueduct

2

3

Beverly Hills Handicap

Hollywood

2

3

Sunset Handicap

Hollywood

2

3

Comely Stakes

Aqueduct

2

3

Illinois Derby

Hawthorne

2

3

Jefferson Cup Stakes

Churchill

2

3

LaPrevoyante Handicap

Calder

2

3

Ohio Derby

Thistledown

2

3

Rampart Stakes

Gulfstream

2

3

Tom Fool Handicap

Belmont

2

3

Baldwin Stakes

Santa Anita

3

Ungraded

Barbaro Stakes

Delaware

3

Ungraded

Calder Derby

Calder

3

Ungraded

Cinema Handicap

Hollywood

3

Ungraded

Dallas Turf Cup Stakes

Lone Star

3

Ungraded

Miss Preakness Stakes

Pimlico

3

Ungraded

Next Move Stakes

Aqueduct

3

Ungraded

Stuyvesant Handicap

Aqueduct

3

Ungraded

A couple of other thoughts:

-How in the world is the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint only a Grade 2? Of all the new Breeders' Cup races the Turf Sprint is, in my opinion, the most worthy of Grade 1 status.

-Churchill Downs looks to have come out the best with these new grades as three of their races were upgraded, highlighted by the Clark Handicap moving to Grade 1.

-Aqueduct (and New York racing, in general) took some hits with the new list as the Big A saw four races downgraded from 2009 to 2010. The only bright spot in New York was the elevation of the Vanderbilt to Grade 1 status.

-Nice to see the Iowa Derby grab graded status for the first time. This is a race that sees big fields year after year at Prairie Meadows.