TOBA: Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
Graded Stakes

Non-Quantitative Objective Factors

No matter how thorough the statistical information, Committee members must bring knowledge and judgment to bear on their decisions. The following are examples of a few of the situations requiring such judgment, rather than strict adherence to mathematical information:

Small fields sometimes can be looked upon as indication of a poor event, but it must be remembered also that small fields may be the result of exceptional quality.

Turf races are subject to being switched to dirt for safety in cases of heavy rainfall. Statistics for such non-turf renewals are excluded from consideration, and Committee members will tend to throw out these runnings in their personal evaluation of the race.

Some changes in a race are minor, or are obviously intended to improve it. Among changes which might take place without mandatory change in grade status include, but are not limited to, increase in purse, small decrease in purse, minor alteration in distance, change from allowance stakes to scale weights, change of date (less than 60 days), change of name.

Strength of the division will also be considered. If the Committee considers that a race takes on special importance because it is one of the few of its kind (e.g., sprint for older females), such a race might be graded higher than a race that has similar statistics but is one of many in its own category.

Total number of graded races and the distribution of particular grades among the races are monitored by the Committee to retain the approximate shape of a pyramid, i.e., Grade I races being the least numerous, Grade II races next, and Grade III races the most numerous.

Additional Considerations

Based on its experience in grading races over the past 42 years, the Committee has also established the following guidelines for its grading decisions:

  • Geographic distribution is not considered in deliberations on grading.
  • The concept of purposely granting a grade to a race at a lesser track in hopes of boosting the track was tried over some years and found to be ineffective; the Committee has therefore abandoned this approach.
  • Handicap races are not treated differently from other races.
  • There is no effort to grade American races in a manner duplicating or approximating the pattern on the calendar of European group races.
  • Decisions on grading are not made with the thought either of promoting or suppressing sponsorship or promotional potential on behalf of any racetrack, sales company, breeders’ organization, or individual persons and horses.

The above guidelines and descriptions of statistics notwithstanding, each Committee member is expected to bring judgment and knowledge to every grading decision. In the end, the grades are a composite of expert opinion, rather than the result solely of statistical analyses.

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