The Delaware Handicap has been assigned the highest classification for a stakes race in the United States. The 1 1/4-mile race for fillies and mares is now a Grade I stakes, an advancement from Grade II.
The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association announced its listing of U.S. Graded Stakes for 2013. The committee had its annual meeting Wednesday in Lexington.
The $750,000 Del 'Cap is joined by the Hopeful Stakes for 2-year-olds at Saratoga as the only two races moved up to Grade I.
"We are thrilled the Delaware Handicap has received Grade I status, and we would like to thank the American Graded Stakes Committee for this recognition," said Delaware Park Senior Vice-President Michael Vild. "The most recent renewals have solidified the position of the Delaware Handicap as the filly and mare summer classic on the national calendar."
Following a review of 673 unrestricted stakes races with a purse of at least $75,000, the committee assigned graded status to 457 races, a reduction of eight from 2012.
Dropping from Grade I to II are the Charles Whittingham Memorial at Hollywood Park, Gazelle at Aqueduct and Santa Monica at Santa Anita Park.
Stakes being elevated to Grade II status for 2013 are the Ft. Lauderdale at Gulfstream Park, Colonial Turf Cup (from Listed) at Colonial Downs, Sorrento at Del Mar and Monrovia at Santa Anita Park.
Six races will be Grade III stakes for 2013: the Dania Beach at Gulfstream Park, Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, Arlington Classic at Arlington Park, Gallant Bob and Parx Dash at Parx Racing and Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.
Of the seven races demoted from Grade II to III the best known is the Fantasy Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Oaklawn Park. Recent winners of the Fantasy have included Eight Belles, Rachel Alexandra and Blind Luck. Others being downgraded are the Red Smith at Aqueduct, W.L. McKnight at Calder Race Course, General George at Laurel Park, Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship at Gulfstream Park and Robert J. Frankel at Santa Anita Park.
A total of six races lost their Grade III status and will be ungraded for 2013: the Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Railbird at Hollywood Park, Spend A Buck at Calder Race Course, Debutante at Churchill Downs, Arlington- Washington Lassie at Arlington Park and Cicada at Aqueduct.