Road to the Kentucky Derby

The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a points system by which horses qualify for a position in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. It features dozens of stakes races for 2 and 3-year-old Thoroughbreds – the number and specific races have changed slightly over the years. The point system replaced a previous qualifying system that looked at earnings from all graded stakes races worldwide.

There are 20 positions available in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. Starting in 2017, one of those spots is reserved for the winner of the separate Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.[1] If the winner of the Japan Road declines the offer, their position is offered to the next ranked Japanese horse. If none of the top four finishers accepts the offer, this position in the starting gate reverts to qualifiers on the regular Road to the Kentucky Derby. Starting in 2018, Churchill Downs developed a similar European Road to the Kentucky Derby.[2]

The remaining 18 spots in the starting gate (or up 20 if the European and Japanese offers are declined) are offered to the top finishers on the main Road to the Kentucky Derby. If one of those horses does not enter the Derby, their position is given to the next ranked horses on the list. Up to 24 horses may enter the race, with the bottom four point-earners listed as "also eligible". If any of the top 20 is scratched after entries are taken but before betting begins, the next ranked horse on the also eligible list will be eligible to run.[2]

If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker to get into the Kentucky Derby will be earnings in non-restricted stakes races, whether or not they are graded. In the event of a tie, those horses will divide equally the points they would have received jointly had one beaten the other. If an owner wants to run a filly in the Derby, she will have to earn points in the same races as the colts and geldings – points earned of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks are not transferable to the Derby.[3][4]

HistoryEdit

The Road to the Kentucky Derby point system was created in 2012 to establish a "clear, practical and understandable path" to the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, according to the official website of Churchill Downs. A poll conducted by Churchill Downs prior to the changes showed 83% of respondents did not understand how horses became starters for the Kentucky Derby. The previous system was based on earnings from all graded stakes races, which essentially gave equal weight to earnings from juvenile races, sprints and even races on the turf as to the traditional Derby prep races. The new system completely disregards sprint races, and places heavy weight on later races, thus putting a premium on recent results.[3][5][4][6] The points system has changed the way horses are prepared for the Derby, the composition of the field and how the race itself is run given the absence of pure sprinters to ensure a fast early pace.[7][8]

The series is divided into two phases, the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. The prep season consists of early races on dirt or synthetic surfaces over distances of at least one mile that typically are run between late September and late February. Points are awarded to the top 4 finishers in each race on a 10-4-2-1 scale, except for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, which has been awarded points on a 20-8-4-2 scale since 2016. The championship season consists of two legs and a "wild card" round. The first leg includes minor prep races, usually Grade II, with a 50-20-10-5 scale. The second leg consists of the Super Six Prep races, each worth 100 points to the winner. They include such historic races as the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita Park, the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Ground Race Course, the Blue Grass Stakes (currently G2) at Keeneland Race Course and the Wood Memorial Stakes (currently G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack. There are two wild card races with points offered on a 20-8-4-2 basis.[2]

The series originally consisted of 36 races in 2013[9][10] and has since changed over the years to include 46 races with the addition of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby (beginning in 2017) and European Road to the Kentucky Derby (beginning in 2018) series.[2]

In addition to qualifying via the Road to the Kentucky Derby, various fees are required to start in the Derby: a nomination fee, an entry fee and a starter fee. For example, in 2013 horses born in 2010 were eligible and the nomination fee was $600 which was to be paid by January 26, 2013. If the January date was missed, a late nomination fee of $6,000 could be paid by March 23, 2013. In addition, owners with qualifying horses were required to pay $25,000 to enter the Derby by May 1, 2013, and an additional $25,000 to start. If a qualifying horse was not nominated in either January or March, it could be supplemented to the Derby for $200,000.[11]

2013 seasonEdit

The 2013 season consisted of 36 races (19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 17 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season).[3][4][6]

2014 seasonEdit

The 2014 season consisted of 34 races (18 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season).[3][4][6][10][12]

2015 seasonEdit

The 2015 season consisted of 35 races (19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season).[13]

2016 seasonEdit

The 2016 season consisted of 35 races (19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season).[14]

  • Points system changes: Increased the points for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile from 10–4–2–1 to 20–8–4–2.

2017 seasonEdit

The 2017 season consisted of 37 races (19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season, 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season, and 2 races for the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby).[15]

  • Race changes: Added one race (Sam F. Davis Stakes) and removed another (Grey Stakes).
  • Rules changes: Added a separate Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, which will consist of two races: the Cattleya Sho (points awarded: 40–16–8–4)[15] for 2-year-olds in 2016 and the Hyacinth Stakes (points awarded: 50–20–10–5)[15] to be run in early 2017. The winner of this series will be offered one of the 20 positions available in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.[1] If the top finisher declines or is not able to participate in the Kentucky Derby, the 2nd-place finisher will be offered a spot in the Kentucky Derby. If the 2nd-place finisher declines or is unable to participate, then the 3rd-place finisher will be offered a spot in the Kentucky Derby. No invitation will be offered for the Derby beyond the top three points earners.[16]

2018 seasonEdit

The 2018 season consisted of 46 races (20 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season, 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season, 7 races for the European Road to the Kentucky Derby, and 3 races for the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby).[2]

2019 seasonEdit

The 2019 season consisted of 46 races (35 races in North America and Dubai on the main Road, 7 races for the European Road and 4 races for the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby).[18]

2020 seasonEdit

Originally, the 2020 season consisted of 46 races (35 races in North America and Dubai on the main Road, 7 races for the European Road and 4 races for the Japan Road), with only minor changes from 2019.[20] However, the season was heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the cancellation or rescheduling of most of the major prep races.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Churchill Downs, Japan Racing Association partner to create 'Japan Road to the Kentucky Road'" (PDF). kentuckyderby.com. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e "European series among changes to Derby points system". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d Churchill Downs Refines 'Road to the Kentucky Derby', Oaks with Point System
  4. ^ a b c d Road to Kentucky Derby will be less complex in 2013
  5. ^ Goldberg, Ryan (3 May 2013). "The Road to Louisville Is Now Paved With Points". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  6. ^ a b c The New Road To The Kentucky Derby
  7. ^ Haskin, Steve. "Bolt d'Oro Taking the Right Path". cs.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Bernier: Kentucky Derby pace analysis | Daily Racing Form". www.drf.com. Retrieved 4 December 2017.
  9. ^ Churchill Downs changes 2014 Kentucky Derby 'Road' map
  10. ^ a b 2013–14 ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY
  11. ^ Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Standings March 16, 2013
  12. ^ Kentucky Derby 2014 points standings April 19, 2014
  13. ^ Road to the Kentucky Derby 2015
  14. ^ Road to the Kentucky Derby 2016
  15. ^ a b c "Sam F. Davis Joins 'Road to Kentucky Derby'". bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  16. ^ Japanese Runner Kentucky Derby Unlikely
  17. ^ History of the Hyacinth Stakes
  18. ^ a b c "No Changes to Main Road to the Kentucky Derby Series". bloodhorse.com. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  19. ^ a b It's official: Rebel Stakes 2019 to split in two divisions
  20. ^ "Churchill Downs Unveils Points Schedule For Road to 2020 Kentucky Derby, Oaks". Paulick Report. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  21. ^ Maryland, New Mexico Close Tracks, Simulcast Facilities
  22. ^ Keeneland cancels spring meet due to coronavirus pandemic
  23. ^ Dubai World Cup Canceled Due To Coronavirus
  24. ^ BHA extends suspension of racing in Britain with no date set for sport's return
  25. ^ "Oaklawn Park Splits Arkansas Derby Into Two Divisions". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved 4 May 2020.
  26. ^ Keeneland Race 9 July 11
  27. ^ Santa Anita schedules 29 stakes, including four Grade 1's

External linksEdit