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NTRA Thoroughbred Notebook

News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.

The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association today presented its listing of U.S. Graded Stakes for 2010 following its annual grading session, which was conducted yesterday in Lexington.
The Committee reviewed 723 unrestricted U.S. stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000, and assigned graded status to 487 of them, two fewer than were graded in 2009. A total of 15 graded races were upgraded, including three new Grade I races and six new Grade II races; six new Grade III races were identified. Two races which carried Grade III status in 2009 are no longer eligible for grading.
Three races were upgraded to Grade I status for 2010: the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap at Saratoga, the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Five races were downgraded from Grade I to Grade II for 2010: the Citation Handicap at Hollywood Park, the Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash Stakes at Laurel Park, the Go For Wand Handicap at Saratoga, the John C. Mabee Stakes at Del Mar and the Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita Park.
Six races were upgraded to Grade II status for 2010: the American Turf Stakes at Churchill Downs, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, the Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds and the Sir Beaufort Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Ten races were downgraded from Grade II to Grade III in 2010: the Bed O’ Roses Handicap at Aqueduct, the Beverly Hills Handicap at Hollywood Park, the Comely Stakes at Aqueduct, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne Race Course, the Jefferson Cup Stakes at Churchill Downs, the La Prevoyante Handicap at Calder Race Course, the Ohio Derby at Thistledown, the Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park and the Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park.
Six races were upgraded to Grade III status for 2010: the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, the Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream Park, the Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, the Monmouth Stakes at Monmouth Park and the Sunland Derby at Sunland Park.
Eight races were downgraded from Grade III to Ungraded status for 2010: the Baldwin Stakes at Santa Anita, the Barbaro Stakes at Delaware Park, the Calder Derby at Calder Race Course, the Cinema Handicap at Hollywood Park, the Dallas Turf Cup Stakes at Lone Star Park, the Adena Stallions’ Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico, the Next Move Stakes at Aqueduct and the Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct. The Frances A. Genter Stakes at Calder Race Course and Safely Kept Stakes at Laurel Park were not eligible for grading in 2010.

Delta Downs in Vinton, La., will put on its richest night of racing tomorrow when it hosts the seventh running of Boyd Gaming’s Grade III, $750,000 Delta Jackpot Stakes for two-year-olds and the Grade III, $500,000 Delta Princess Stakes for two-year-old fillies. The Jackpot’s rich, graded status means that the race could well yield a starter or two for next May’s Kentucky Derby, which allocates starting berths based on graded stakes earnings should more than 20 horses enter.
Friday’s 11-race program boasts four additional added-money events and total purses of $1.6 million.
The Jackpot’s morning line favorite at 2-1 is California shipper Gallant Gent, who finished seventh last time out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Gallant Gent drew the rail for this mile-and-one-sixteenth event that has a field of eight. He will be ridden by Kent Desormeaux.
The Delta Princess drew a well-matched field of nine, including 5-2 morning line choice Truth and Justice.
Delta Downs will offer a special $100,000-guaranteed all-stakes Pick 4 wager on races 6-9. The Pick Four will include both the Delta Princess and the Delta Jackpot.

The upset winner of Hollywood Park’s Bayakoa Handicap last year at odds of 13-1, Briecat will try to repeat in Saturday’s 2009 renewal of the Grade II, $150,000 contest.
Briecat, who faded to seventh behind Zenyatta after setting the pace in the Lady’s Secret at Santa Anita Park in October, finished second to Zenyatta while making her last Hollywood Park start in the Grade I Vanity Handicap in June.
To be ridden by Martin Garcia for trainer Vladimir Cerin, Briecat drew the 10-post in a field of 11 for the 28th running of the mile-and-one-sixteenth Bayakoa.

The undefeated mare Zenyatta, who was retired following her brilliant, last-to-first victory versus males in the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on November 7, will make her final race-day appearance at Santa Anita when she parades through the stretch on December 26, the track’s opening day. She will then ship to Kentucky to begin her new career as a broodmare.
All fans in attendance will receive a beautiful full-color poster of Zenyatta, courtesy of HRTV, and will be treated to a winner’s circle ceremony honoring the mare who was undefeated in 14 career starts.
Although retired, Zenyatta, who is owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and was trained by John Shirreffs, is currently engaged in a head-and-head battle for 2009 Horse of the Year honors with the brilliant three-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra.
“We are thrilled and very honored to have Zenyatta return here to Santa Anita one final time,” said Santa Anita President Ron Charles. “This will be great for all of our fans as well. What she accomplished here in the Breeders’ Cup Classic is something that none of us who witnessed it will ever forget.”
Zenyatta will be accompanied on opening day at Santa Anita by her owners, Jerry and Ann Moss, her trainer John Shirreffs, and her regular rider, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.