Without question, the GSC followed precedent by not assigning a grade; according to guideline, a race must exist for a minimum of two years. But when Breeders’ Cup debuted in 1984 all races were Grade 1, again when the Filly & Mare Turf was instituted 15 years later. All Breeders’ Cup were anticipated to be of world class. That assessment proved resoundingly correct.
No one argues that the new Filly & Mare Sprint “deserves” instant Grade 1 status for reasons obvious to even the most casual fan. But when Breeders’ Cup officials made their presentation, they took an all-or-nothing-at-all posture. After all, no event calling itself “world championship” wants any race to be regarded as less-than.
So, a dirt miler doesn’t have a formal Eclipse category? But until that becomes a reality, can’t America’s best miler be a sprint or handicap champion, even Horse of the Year? The answer: highly unusual but, of course, it could. The Juvenile Turf superfluous and meaningless? Wasn’t turf specialist Wait A While the open three-year-old filly champion of 2006?
This is horse racing. Eclipse Award voters don’t follow hard, fast rules because there aren’t any. Anything can happen and often does.
This does not denigrate the committee’s decision in this matter but grades have been changed in the past for less, more as a function of power politics and geography. After that, the game is to follow the money. Too many graded stakes exist already. But then there wouldn’t be all that black type cluttering up the pages of a sales catalogue.