A graded stakes race
is a term applied by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association
to thoroughbred horse races
in the United States
to describe races that derive their name from the stake, or entry fee, owners must pay. These fees, to which the track adds an additional amount, constitute the total amount from which prize money is paid to the first, second, third, and usually fourth place finishers.
There are three different levels of stakes races, the top ranking, and therefore purse, being a Grade I Stakes. They are higher-class races for bigger prizes and often involve competitors that belong to the same gender, age and class. These races may, though, be "weight-for-age", with weights adjusted only according to age, and also there are 'set weights' where all horses carry the same weight. Furthermore, there are "conditions" races, in which horses carry weights that are set by conditions, such as having won a certain number of races, or races of a certain value.
The American Graded Stakes Committee uses as part of its criteria for the grading:
- Purse Requirement: That the race has a purse of more than $75,000.
- Longevity: That the race has been run for two years under the same conditions.
- Drug Testing: That post race drug testing is managed by a governmental authority.
- Restrictions: That the race may be restricted only in age and gender.
- Anabolic Steroid Testing : Boldenone, Nandrolone,......