The Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf were among four races bolstered to Grade I status for 2012 as the American Graded Stakes Committee released the results of its annual grading session conducted Wednesday and Thursday in Lexington.
The Committee reviewed 659 unrestricted U.S. stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000 and assigned graded status to 465 of them, nine fewer than were graded in 2011.
A total of nine stakes were upgraded, including five new Grade II races, and four rose to Grade III status. Eleven races that carried graded status in 2011 are no longer eligible for grading.
In addition to the Juvenile Fillies Turf — won this year by Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Stephanie's Kitten — and the Jenny Wiley, the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint and the Cotillion Stakes at Parx Racing were also granted new Grade I status.
Since 2006 when it became a Grade II race, the 11⁄16-mile Jenny Wiley has been won four times by either established Grade I horses (Rutherienne in 2008 and Forever Together in 2009) or horses (My Typhoon in 2007 and Never Retreat in 2011) who went on to become Grade I winners.
The Hopeful Stakes and Ruffian Invitational at Saratoga, Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park and Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar were all downgraded from Grade I to Grade II for 2012.
The Alysheba Stakes at Churchill was among the five races upgraded to Grade II status. Five races, including the Swale Stakes at Gulfstream, were downgraded from Grade II to Grade III.
Though Turfway's Grade III Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes produced the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner in Animal Kingdom, there was little consideration given to restoring the race to its previous Grade II status.
"Animal Kingdom was the only graded winner to come out of that race," explained Andrew Schweigardt, secretary of the committee.
Four races were upgraded to Grade III status for 2012: the Smarty Jones Stakes, Greenwood Cup and Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing and James Marvin Stakes at Saratoga.
Two races were downgraded from Grade III to ungraded status for 2012: the Ouija Board Distaff Stakes at Lone Star Park and Endine Stakes at Delaware Park. The Bryan Station Stakes and Perryville Stakes at Keeneland were among the races not eligible for grading in 2012.
The Graded Stakes Committee had previously announced its intention to rescind the grade of any 2-year-old stakes race in 2012 that allows horses to be treated on race day with the anti-bleeder medication furosemide.
However, none of the jurisdictions that hold graded stakes races for juveniles have moved forward with the proposed Lasix ban.
"The committee just received an update with how things were going with the regulatory process in New York, California and Kentucky and just left it at that," Schweigardt said. "No decisions were made on what to do."