The Racing Journal Logo

New Graded Stakes format approved to begin in 2006


May 27, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

AQHA--The American Quarter Horse Association has finalized the new American Quarter Horse racing graded stakes format. These official guidelines, approved by the AQHA Racing Committee at the 2005 Convention, will take effect beginning in 2006.

Included in the new format, all new races must run for two years before being considered for a grade. If an existing race is moved, it will retain its previous graded status unless it improves or declines deemed necessary to change its grade status.

The new format includes several provisions dealing with purse requirements. First, a $15,000 minimum is required for a race to be classified as an official stakes race. In addition, new minimum purse requirements for graded stakes status for each age division also are included in the revised format, and are as follows:

2-year-old:
Grade 1 – $250,000
Grade 2 – $100,000
Grade 3 – $50,000

3-year-old:
Grade 1 – $150,000
Grade 2 – $75,000
Grade 3 – $35,000

3-year-old and up:
Grade 1 – $100,000
Grade 2 – $50,000
Grade 3 – $25,000

Races that are 870 yards must have a $100,000 minimum to be considered for Grade 1 status, have a $50,000 minimum for a Grade 2 or have a $25,000 minimum to be considered for Grade 3 status. In the event a race falls 20 percent below the minimum purse requirement for one year, it will be allowed to retain its current graded status. The race is then subject to review by the AQHA Graded Stakes Committee.

The new format also includes distance requirements for a new race to be considered for Grade 1 stakes status. After August 1, 2-year-old races must be at least 350 yards to be considered for Grade 1 status. Three-year-old and 3-year-old and older races must be at least 400 yards to be considered Grade 1.

In addition, a race in which conditions give preference to non-qualifiers of a graded stakes race does not qualify for graded stakes status (i.e. horses finishing 11-20 in an attempt to qualify for a particular Grade 1 event).

Also approved was a point system to evaluate the quality of races using a point scale. A three-year rolling average of black-type points will be used to evaluate a race’s quality. These qualifying points only will serve as a tool for the committee. The points will not be used for a horse’s official record or in determining regional high-point awards.

New in 2005, the AQHA Graded Stakes Subcommittee will consist of 16 geographically diverse members. Eight will be elected from the racing committee with no more than two members from any one state. These members will serve staggered, three-year terms. Eight additional at large members, who also will be from different areas, will be appointed by the racing committee chair and approved by the racing council. These members also will serve staggered, three-year terms.

For more information on graded stakes races or American Quarter Horse racing, call (806) 376-4811.