Beginning this year, the American Graded Stakes Committee will evaluate and rate the quality of listed stakes. The new rating system would also extend to listed stakes for 2-year-olds the ban on race-day Salix use that will be applied to graded stakes for 2-year-olds when the program is implemented.
"The listed races would be treated the same as graded stakes and have to follow the same policies," said Andy Schweigardt, secretary of the AGSC and director of industry relations and development for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.
The committee announced in 2011 a pilot program that tied the status of juvenile graded stakes to a ban on all race-day medication, primarily the anti-bleeder medication Salix (also known as Lasix). The AGSC in the past has tied adoption of various policies to retaining grades for stakes.
The decision to implement the ban followed a decision by the Breeders' Cup to eliminate race-day medication for all 2-year-old races during the 2012 World Championships at Santa Anita Park. The AGSC has not set a definitive date but is monitoring proposed regulatory changes on race-day medication in states, like Kentucky, which have proposed banning race-day Salix in graded stakes for 2-year-olds. New York and West Virginia are also conducting fact-finding initiatives related to similar bans. When the regulatory climate has progressed enough, the AGSC will determine an implementation date.
Evaluating and rating listed stakes came at the request of the International Cataloguing Standards Committee, which asked both the AGSC and the Canadian Graded Stakes Committee to institute a rating program for listed status.
"North America does not have a quality control system over listed races, unlike Europe and the Austral-Asian countries," said Schweigardt. To be a listed stakes in the U.S., a race only needs to be an open stakes with a purse of at least $75,000.
"The cataloging committee has determined that money is no longer an accurate indicator of quality, given the influx of slots money," Schweigardt added.
While the exact criteria have not been set, listed races are likely to be evaluated in a similar way as graded stakes. The North American Rating Committee, which is a group of five racing officials, will provide a rating for each race. This rating will be used in conjunction with quality points assigned to the horses that competed in the most recent editions of the stakes and an evaluation by the AGSC of the quality of a stake's field over a five-year period.
Even if a stakes loses its listed status, it won't lose it black-type status.
Schweigardt he doesn't think allowing a race to retain black type without keeping its listed status undermines the new quality rating system.
"Right now, 'listed' has no meaning because it is just determined by the money," he said. "Down the road, listed status will have greater meaning in a catalog because of the evaluation process."
The AGCS will hold its annual grading session Nov. 28-29.
Other committee action taken this week included reappointing J. David Richardson as chairman and appointing Ocala farm owner Mike O'Farrell to a position being vacated by owner John Amerman. The AGSC is composed of six TOBA members—Richardson, O'Farrell, Bill Farish, Seth Hancock, and TOBA chairman of the board Peter Willmott--plus racing officials Rogers Beasley, P.J. Campo, Dan Bork, Mike Dempsey, and Tom Robbins.