The Delaware Handicap, won in 2012 by Royal Delta, will be a grade I in 2013.

The Delaware Handicap, won in 2012 by Royal Delta, will be a grade I in 2013.

Delaware Handicap, Hopeful Now Grade I

Parx Racing in Pennsylvania also picked up two new graded stakes.

The Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park and Three Chimneys Hopeful Stakes at Saratoga Race Course have been granted grade I status by the American Graded Stakes Committee, which met Nov. 28 in Lexington.

The AGSC said it reviewed 673 unrestricted United States stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000 and assigned graded status to 457 of them, eight fewer than were graded in 2012. Listed status was given to 201 races; this is the first year the committee is charged with assessing listed status.

The Hopeful for 2-year-olds was downgraded from grade II to grade I for 2012 but has regained the top rating. This year's Delaware Handicap for fillies and mares was won by Royal Delta, who was voted champion 3-year-old filly of 2011 and is the favorite for champion older filly or mare of 2012.

"We are thrilled the Delaware Handicap has received grade I status, and we would like to thank the American Graded Stakes Committee for this recognition," said Michael Vild, senior vice president at Delaware Park. "The most recent renewals have solidified the position of the Delaware Handicap as the filly and mare summer classic on the national calendar.

"Through the decades, the Delaware Handicap has proven to be a pivotal stepping stone on the road to the filly and mare championship, and the most recent renewals of the race have certainly met, if not surpassed, the standards of that tradition."

In all, five graded races were upgraded including the two grade I events and three grade II races. In addition, there is one grade II race and six grade III races that had held listed status.

Nine races that carried graded status in 2012 are no longer eligible for grading.

Three races were downgraded from grade I to grade II for 2013: the Charles Whittingham Memorial Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park, Gazelle Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, and the Santa Monica Stakes at Santa Anita Park.

Four races were upgraded to grade II status: the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, Colonial Turf Cup Stakes (from listed) at Colonial Downs, Sorrento Stakes at Del Mar, and the Monrovia Stakes at Santa Anita.

Seven races were downgraded from grade II to grade III: the Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct, W.L. McKnight Handicap at Calder Casino & Race Course, General George Handicap at Laurel Park, Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship Stakes at Gulfstream, Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park, and the Robert J. Frankel Stakes at Santa Anita.

Six races were upgraded to grade III status: the Dania Beach Stakes at Gulfstream, Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, Arlington Classic Stakes at Arlington Park, Gallant Bob Stakes and Parx Dash Handicap at Parx Racing, and the Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.

Six races were downgraded from grade III to listed status for 2013: the Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes and Railbird Stakes at Hollywood Park, Spend A Buck Handicap at Calder, Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes at Arlington, and the Cicada Stakes at Aqueduct.

Races not eligible for grading this year are the La Habra Stakes, San Rafael Stakes, and Thunder Road Stakes at Santa Anita; Kentucky Cup Stakes, Kentucky Cup Distaff Stakes, Kentucky Cup Sprint Stakes, and Turfway Park Fall Championship Stakes at Turfway Park; and the Kentucky Juvenile Stakes and Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill.

Fifteen races were downgraded from listed to non-listed blacktype status: the Gold Rush Futurity at Arapahoe Park; Mine That Bird Derby at Sunland Park; Zia Park Derby at Zia Park; Sophomore Sprint Stakes, Memorial Day Handicap, Summer Finale Stakes, Decoration Day Handicap, and Firecracker Stakes at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack, and Resort; Bachelor Stakes at Oaklawn; Rumson Stakes at Monmouth Park;  San Juan County Commissioners Handicap at SunRay Park; Brandywine Stakes at Parx; Prairie Gold Lassie Stakes at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino; and the Femme Fatale Stakes and Red Carpet Stakes at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

2013 Graded Stakes  Number % Graded Change from 2012
Grade I     111 24.3%   -1
Grade II   148 32.4%   -3
Grade III 198 43.3% -4
All Graded 457 67.9%  
Listed     201 29.9%  
All Graded and Listed Races       658