TOBA: Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
Graded Stakes

Explanation of Grading Session Workbook


Over time, the TOBA American Graded Stakes Committee (AGSC) has determined that a variety of objective measurements of race quality should be presented in detail and summary form in its Grading Session Workbook. These measurements now fall into two general categories: best achievement in graded and unrestricted black-type stakes events in the 24 months before and after the race, and best annual racing performance as measured by NARC Rating.

Achievement in graded and unrestricted black-type events (denoted in the Workbook by POINTS, PERCENTAGE GRADED STAKES WINNERS, and QUALITY POINTS) provides the grading process with a desired historical continuity as well as a means of recognizing high achievement across divisions. At the same time, the Committee recognizes that these measurements tend to support the self-perpetuation of graded events, an effect that can compromise the evaluation process while magnifying the consequences of all grading decisions.

Counterbalancing achievement measurements, the Committee has incorporated NARC Ratings as a way of identifying exceptional racing performance without a necessary reliance on prior grading decisions. NARC RATES, which consolidate the NARC Ratings of individual racehorses, provide the grading process with a narrower appraisal of a race renewal – specific to racing year, distance, and surface – while correlating the American grading system with the techniques employed by international grading organizations. At the same time, the Committee recognizes that NARC RATES are wholly dependent on the fallible methods and art of a small group of racing professionals.

The 2015 Grading Session Workbook therefore represents the Committee’s latest best effort to provide itself with the least imperfect array of “hard data” to aid, inform, and support an evaluation process that must finally depend on the integrity, experience, and judgment of the Committee members themselves. The calculations can supplement, but cannot supplant, the collective wisdom of the Committee.

The American Graded Stakes Committee grades races in 14 divisions, evaluating the quality of the field of each eligible race in a given division relative to the quality of the field of other races in that division. These divisions are:

  1. Two-year-olds (2YO)
  2. Two-year-old Fillies (2YO F)
  3. Three-year-old Route, Dirt (3YO R D)
  4. Three-year-old Route, Turf (3YO R T)
  5. Three-year-old Sprint (3YO SPR)
  6. Three-year-old Filly Route, Dirt (3YO F R D)
  7. Three-year-old Filly Route, Turf (3YO F R T)
  8. Three-year-old Filly Sprint (3YO F SPR)
  9. Three-year-old & Up Route, Dirt (3&UP R D)
  10. Three-year-old & Up Route, Turf (3&UP R T)
  11. Three-year-old & Up Sprint (3&UP SPR)
  12. Three-year-old & Up Fillies & Mares Route, Dirt (3&UP F/M R D)
  13. Three-year-old & Up Fillies & Mares Route, Turf (3&UP F/M R T)
  14. Three-year-old & Up Fillies & Mares Sprint (3&UP F/M SPR)

The quality of a race is evaluated using:

  1. stakes performance of all horses in the field in the 24 months before and after the race, and
  2. annual classification ratings of the four highest-rated horses in the field.

A. Stakes Performance

Stakes performance is measured in three ways:

  1. POINTS (reflecting field-horses’ 1-2-3 finishes in all unrestricted black-type events);
  2. PERCENTAGE of Graded Stakes Winners in the field;
  3. QUALITY POINTS (number of Grade I, II, and III winners in the field)

Stake performance measurements indicate the highest level of performance achieved by every horse in the field through the year of the most recent renewal of the race in question. (If the most recent renewal was prior to 2015, the lifetime cut-off date is December 31 of that year; if the most recent renewal was in 2015, the cut-off date is November 5, 2015.) Stakes performance measurements are not specific to AGSC Division or NARC category: they show the highest achievement of each horse regardless of age or type of race.

B. Annual Classification Ratings

Annual classification ratings are the product of the North American Rating Committee, a panel of five racing secretaries operating under the auspices of The Jockey Club, TOBA, Breeders’ Cup Limited and the International Classifications Committee. Similar to Timeform Ratings, these measurements reflect the best performance achieved by each horse in the field of the race, during the year of that renewal of the race. NARC Ratings are specific to year. The NARC RATE of a race renewal is the average of the four highest NARC Ratings in that renewal.

These four measurements (POINTS, %GSW, QUALITY POINTS, and NARC Ratings) make up the objective elements of the American Graded Stakes Committee’s grading process. A detailed presentation of these measurements for each of up to five most recent renewals of every eligible race is displayed on the RACE PAGE for each eligible race. The averages of each of these measurements (sum of each measurement over every renewal, divided by the number of renewals), for every eligible race in the division, are displayed on the workbook INDEX PAGE for each AGSC Division.

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