Graded Stakes Class Drop Angle

Graded stakes are the most competitive events in horse racing. These races draw the best horses in the world. EZ Horse Betting can be very profitable when one knows how to properly wager on graded stakes at an online racebook. There is also a handicapping angle that can help bettors pick more winners. This angle appears when a horse drops from one graded stakes class to another.

Understanding Graded Stakes

In American horse racing there are three levels of graded stakes:

  • Grade 1 events like the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic
  • Grade 2 events like the John Henry Turf Championship
  • Grade 3 events like the Super Derby

There is a process by which all horse racing stakes events are graded. The grading process takes into account the amount of the purse offered, how long the race has been ran, and the medication and drug testing requirements. Sometimes a race can be downgraded. For years the Super Derby was a Grade 1 event before being reclassified as a Grade 3.


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The toughest stakes events are classified as Grade 1. As the grade drops, the competition gets a little bit softer. A trainer may decide to place their horse in a Grade 1 event because they think they are very talented. After being defeated in one of these difficult events, the trainer may then decide to enter stakes that are lower on the ladder. This class drop may give a horse a better chance to win and be competitive.

Class Drops in Graded Stakes

The first thing a bettor should know is that there are no bad horses in graded stakes no matter what the level. Every horse that is able to compete in these stakes would generally run the legs off of any horse that competes at a racing circuit on the daily. But talent in horse racing is relative. Just like handicappers must compare horses that compete at a claiming level, they must also compare horses that compete at the stakes level.

This can present a unique problem for the handicapper. How can one state that one stakes horse is better than another. It is far easier to compare a recreational jogger with a professional runner. The professional will win each time. However, when two professional runners are lined up against one another to compete, the comparison becomes more difficult. So it is with horse racing.

What is strange is that the difference in talent level between a Grade 1 field and a Grade 3 field can be extreme. Therefore, the wise handicapper may be able to take advantage of betting opportunities when they are able to recognize graded stakes class drops. The first thing to look for is a horse that has been competing at a graded level and failing. By failing we mean that the horse has been running third or fourth.

The trainer will often recognize this as an indication that a horse needs softer competition. They will then look for the next lower level of graded stakes. So, a horse that has been competing well in Grade 1 events but not winning could offer up a nice betting opportunity when the horse drops to a Grade 2 event.

Study the Trainer’s History in Graded Stakes

A good way to get an idea of how a horse will perform in a graded stakes race is to examine how the trainer has done with stakes races in the past. The talented trainer will be able to recognize when a horse is in too deep. Their record may show a great deal of success when they attempt a class drop from Grade 1 to Grade 2 events.

If you are able to spot this move with a specific trainer you may be able to find a nice bet. Some of these horses that are taking class drops in graded stakes will be offered up at generous odds. Higher odds is what you need to be successful in betting race horse at an online racebook.

As a handicapper you should always fear betting against the horse that is taking a class drop. This applies to all horse racing events and not just graded stakes. The class dropper is trying softer competition for the first time, and the results may be positive. Many a handicapper has been undone by this specific betting angle. Always give the class dropper the respect it deserves.

Playing Graded Stakes at an Online Racebook

Graded stakes events are the rarest contests in horse racing. There are only a certain number of these events that are held every year. Therefore, the best way to play these races is by creating an account with an online racebook. With one account you can get access to the best graded stakes in the world, and you never have to leave home to see these races.

When you play at a local race track you will only have betting access to a limited number of graded stakes races. Some smaller racing circuits may not have any graded stakes events at all to choose from. Your only option is to visit a simulcast racing facility or off track betting parlor, or join an online racebook. Check our Bovada racebook review, Twinspires review or even our Betamerica review. All great choice if you are in the US. 5Dimes review for folks anywhere!

When you join an online racebook you will be given the opportunity to bet at hundreds of tracks. With that kind of access you will be able to find a graded stakes race almost every day of the year. And within those races you are likely to find horses that are taking those all-important class drops.

How to Use the Graded Stakes Angle

To use the Graded Stakes horse race betting angle you need to find a horse that satisfies a few important requirements. These are the things that you should be looking for:

  • A horse that has finished no worse than fourth nor better than second in its last three graded stakes appearances
  • The horse should be dropping from one graded stakes level to the next in today’s race
  • The trainer should have had previous success when making a graded stakes class drop
  • Odds of 5-1 or better

Anytime that you play a handicapping angle you are taking a risk. You always have to be sure that the risk you are taking is justified. By justified we mean that you must stand the chance of reaping a good reward when you win. That is why we only recommend that you bet horses at 5-1 or better when using this angle.

You will only need to win one out of every four bets or so when using this strategy in order to break even. Of course, you want to do better than that. This means that you should also use other handicapping factors to support your betting choice. Do not solely rely on a graded stakes class drop to make the bet.

You will want to know that the horse qualifies on the grounds of speed, pace, and form. Any horse that does not meet these qualifications may not be good enough to win even with the help of a class drop. If the horse has been given a new jockey to go along with the drop, even better. This means that the trainer is making a solid effort to win and seeks the assistance of a better rider.

The Danger of the Graded Stakes Class Drop Horse Racing Angle

The handicapper must use caution and care when using this betting angle. It is not recommended to approach the angle indiscriminately. The reason for this is that all horses competing at the graded stakes level are talented and worthy of respect. Every year at Triple Crown time you will hear bettors comparing horses and knocking the abilities of a certain horse. Do so at your own peril.

A horse that fails to perform well in a Grade 1 event could easily come back to win another such event at a later time. Perhaps the horse was not feeling its best that day, or maybe there was rider error. Never assume that a horse lost a grade stakes event because it just wasn’t good enough to win. There could be multiple factors that influenced the horse’s performance.

There are many who will say that handicapping a graded stakes event is very difficult. Our own belief is that these races can be easier to handicap because more talented horses are likely to run truer to form than less gifted animals.

Are you ready to try this angle out for yourself? Why not take a moment and sign up at one of our recommended online racebooks. It only requires a few minutes and you can watch and wager on thoroughbred racing right from the comfort of your own home.


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