There will be 42 graded races in Canada in 2012, up from 37 last year, The Jockey Club of Canada’s Graded Stakes Committee announced Jan. 25 following its annual review.

The five grade I races for 2012 are unchanged.

Three grade III races, the Summer Stakes for 2-year-olds on the turf, the Natalma Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on the turf, and the Hendrie Stakes for fillies and mares 3 and up have each been upgraded to grade II race for 2012, increasing the total number of grade II races to 13 in 2012.

Five listed stakes have received an upgrade to grade III status, bumping the number of grade III events to 24 in 2012. The Mazarine Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Woodbine in Toronto and the BC Premier’s Handicap for 3-year-olds and up at Hastings in British Columbia have regained their grade III status for 2012.

The new grade III races for 2012 are the Bold Venture Stakes, a sprint race for 3-year-olds and up; the Ontario Fashion Stakes, a sprint race for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and up; and the Ontario Derby, for 3-year-olds. All three races are run at Woodbine and carry purses of $150,000 each.

The Canadian Graded Stakes Committee evaluates and reviews the graded stakes annually. It determines whether races should be upgraded, downgraded, or remain the same, based on a number of criteria including the performance of the races based on the NARC and BRIS ratings for the previous years. To be eligible for consideration for graded status in Canada, races must carry the following minimum purses: $250,000 for grade I; $150,000 for grade II, and $100,000 for grade III.

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