Italian Derby Downgraded
The Italian Derby, which has been run as a Group 1 race ever since the Pattern system was implemented in the early 1970s, has been downgraded to Group 2 status.
The race has been facing the axe for some time as Group 1 events are, according to the European Pattern Committee rules, meant to achieve an average end of season official handicap rating of 115 for the first four home - something the Capannelle showpiece has not managed since 1993.
The Italian Derby was last year reduced in distance to 1m3f and moved to the second Sunday in May. It will remain at the same trip this term but has been moved a further 24 hours to Saturday May 9, presumably in an attempt to avoid a clash with Serie A football matches.
However, the race will remain Italy's most valuable by a considerable margin. Indeed, its total prize money of 814,000 euros (£790,291) is almost three times that of any of the nation's seven Group 1 races for 2009.
Irish-bred three-year-old The Gurkha is being hailed as a possible superstar after the Galileo colt smashed his rivals by more than five lengths in the G1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) at Deauville.