(NEW KENT, VA) — The American Graded Stakes Committee at its meeting yesterday in Lexington, Kentucky, voted to upgrade the Colonial Turf Cup to Grade II status for 2013. The 9th edition of the Turf Cup is scheduled to be held June 22nd at Colonial Downs and is open to horses three years of age and up that will compete 1 3/16th miles over the Secretariat Turf Course.
The first Turf Cup in 2005 was open exclusively for three year olds and was intended to serve as a prep race of sorts for the Grade II Virginia Derby, which was held four weeks later. After English Channel and Showing Up won the first two editions, the Turf Cup earned Grade III status for the ’07 and ‘08 runnings. In 2009, it jumped to Grade II status and after Battle of Hastings won that year and Paddy O’ Prado captured the stakes in 2010, Colonial Downs made a strategic decision that saw the Turf Cup lose its grade until yesterday’s announcement.
In an effort to bring past Turf Cup and Virginia Derby champions and entrants back to Colonial Downs, the track opened the Turf Cup’s condition to allow 3 year olds and up to enter the race. By doing so though, the Turf Cup lost its graded status.
Rahystrada and Turbo Compressor won the newly ungraded editions in 2011 and 2012 respectively. The former went on to capture the Grade III Kentucky Turf Cup in ’11 and the Grade III Arlington Handicap in ’12, and finished a strong third in a return engagement at this past summer’s Turf Cup at the age of eight. The latter, a four year old Todd Pletcher trainee, captured the Grade I United Nations at Monmouth just five weeks after his Turf Cup win.
Now graded again, the Turf Cup rejoins The Virginia Derby (Gr. II), All Along Stakes (Gr. III) and Virginia Oaks (Gr. III) as Colonial’s graded quartet. The 2013 live racing season begins June 8th.