Canada's Nearctic Stakes Downgraded
Photo: Michael Burns
Phil's Dream won the 2013 Nearctic Stakes. The Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine has been downgraded to grade II status in 2014.

The Jockey Club of Canada's Graded Stakes Committee held its annual review of the nation's graded and listed stakes for 2014, and while the number of graded stakes in Canada remains unchanged at 43, there is one notable downgrade.

After reviewing the North American Rating Committee and Race Quality Score figures for all graded and listed races in Canada, the committee determined that the grade I Nearctic Stakes at Woodbine would be downgraded to grade II status in 2014. 

The status for all other graded and listed stakes in Canada will remain unchanged in 2014. Canada will host four grade I, 16 grade II, and 23 grade III races in 2014.

Canada's Graded Stakes Committee meeting, conducted by committee chair Jeff Begg, was held Jan. 21 with all committee members present as well as chief steward Jim Lawson and the racing secretaries from Hastings Racecourse, Northlands Park, and Woodbine

The Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee evaluates and reviews the graded stakes in Canada annually and determines whether races should be upgraded, downgraded, or remain the same. The committee bases their decisions on the cumulative NARC ratings for five consecutive years along with the new RQS figures introduced last year by the North American International Catalogue Standards Committee.

Graded stakes in North America must carry the following minimum purses and minimum cumulative NARC: $250,000 and 112 NARC for grade I; $150,000 and 105 NARC for grade II, and $100,000 and 100 NARC for grade III.

In 2013 the Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee was made responsible for evaluating all listed stakes in Canada using the same evaluation process mentioned above. All listed races in North America must have a minimum purse of $75,000 and a minimum cumulative NARC of 90.

Changes to the requirements for stakes in North America to receive non-listed black type in SITA catalogs (those compliant with guidelines required by the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers) were implemented by the North American International Catalogue Standards Committee Jan. 1, 2014.

The primary change to the requirements was the implementation of the RQS as an additional quality control for non-listed black-type races in North America.

The RQS is the average of the Annual Race Quality Score for each of a race's last three renewals. The Annual Race Quality Score is the combination of the speed figures assigned to a race by Bloodstock Research Information Services (BRIS), Daily Racing Form (Beyer), Equibase, and Thoro-Graph, and is calculated within 30 days after the date of the race. The figure assigned to a race is the average of the speed figure assigned to each of the top four placed horses in the race.

Non-Listed black-type races that receive an RQS below the minimum age/sex requirements and have a three-year cumulative RQS below the minimum requirements will automatically lose their black-type status without evaluation. The Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee has been made responsible for informing host racetracks of any black-type races that do not meet the RQS requirement and subsequently have lost their black-type status. The committee will also communicate a warning to host tracks if a stakes is at risk of losing their black-type status in any given year.

The Jockey Club of Canada Graded Stakes Committee reports that the following stakes races in Canada have lost black-type status effective 2014:

Alberta OaksNorthlands Park
Beaufort StakesNorthlands Park
Bird of Pay StakesNorthlands Park
Buffalo StakesAssiniboia Downs
Chariot Chaser HandicapNorthlands Park
CTHS Sales Stakes3-year-old filly divisionHastings Racecourse
Duchess of York HandicapNorthlands Park
Fall Classic Distaff HandicapNorthlands Park
J. W. Sifton StakesAssiniboia Downs
Matron StakesAssiniboia Downs
R.C. Anderson StakesAssiniboia Downs
R.K. (Red) Smith HandicapNorthlands Park
Red Diamond Express HandicapNorthlands Park
Sturgeon River StakesNorthlands Park
Sun Sprint Championship HandicapNorthlands Park
Three and Four Year Old Filly Sales StakesNorthlands Park
Three and Four Year Old Sales StakesNorthlands Park
Two Year Old Sales StakesNorthlands Park
With Approval StakesWoodbine Racetrack

The following black-type stakes races are at risk of losing their black-type status in 2015 if the minimum age/sex RQS and the minimum cumulative RQS is not achieved in 2014:

Assiniboia OaksAssiniboia Downs
CTHS Sales Stakes2-Year-Old Male divisionHastings Racecourse
New Westminster StakesHastings Racecourse
Northlands OaksNorthlands Park
Rainbow Connection StakesFort Erie Race Track
Sonoma HandicapNorthlands Park
Western Canada HandicapNorthlands Park

Any new stakes races created and existing races with material changes to their conditions must now be submitted to the NAICSC for review and black-type approval no less than 30 days prior to the day the new race or changed race is to be run. New stakes races with a purse of less than $75,000 available to all entries must run twice under essentially the same conditions before being evaluated for black-type status.

For complete information on the RQS black-type requirements and/or for black-type race status updates, go to www.northamericanicsc.com or contact jockeyclub@bellnet.ca.

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