Road to the Kentucky Derby
The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a points system which features 34 stakes races for 2 and 3-year-old Thoroughbreds. The point system replaces the previous system which consisted of about 185 graded stakes races worldwide. The series is divided into two phases, the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. The prep season consists of 17 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. The championship season consists of two legs and a "wild card" round. The first leg includes eight races with a 50-20-10-5 scale. The second leg includes seven races with a 100-40-20-10 scale. The "wild card" consists of one race and has a 10-4-2-1 scale.
The top 20 point earners can earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate if at least 20 horses enter the race. Up to 24 horses may enter the race and four horses can be listed as "also eligible" and would be ranked in order accordingly in case any horse(s) be scratched prior to the race. If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker to get into the race 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 a filly to run in the race, she is eligible, but she will have to earn points in the same races as the colts and geldings. Horses listed as "also eligible" are not allowed to participate in the race once wagering is opened.
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. The previous system determining the entrants to the Kentucky Derby was too confusing for the general public, based on a poll conducted by Churchill Downs which showed 83% of respondents stating they did not understand how horses became starters for the race. As a result, graded stakes earnings criteria, which was used since 1986, was replaced by the points system. In 2013, the series consisted of 36 races but has since been reduced to 34. A nomination entry fee is required to be paid for eligibility. For 2013, horses born in 2010 were eligible and the fee was $600 which was to be paid by Jan. 26, 2013. However, a late entry fee of $6000 could have paid by March 23, 2013 to gain eligibility for nomination. In addition, owners were required to pay $25,000 to enter the Derby by May 1, 2013, and an additional $25,000 to start. If there were fewer than 24 nominees entered, a horse could be supplemented for $200,000.
- Race changes: Added two races (Iroquois Stakes; Jerome Stakes) and removed four others (Royal Lodge Stakes; CashCall Futurity; Sam F. Davis Stakes; Derby Trial Stakes).
- Points system changes: Reduced the points for the wild card from 20–8–4–2 to 10–4–2–1.
The 2015 season consisted of 35 races, 19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season.
- Race changes: Added one race (Los Alamitos Futurity).
The 2016 season consisted of 35 races, 19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season.
- Points system changes: Increased the points for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile from 10–4–2–1 to 20–8–4–2.
- Churchill Downs changes 2014 Kentucky Derby 'Road' map
- Churchill Downs Refines 'Road to the Kentucky Derby', Oaks with Point System
- Road to Kentucky Derby will be less complex in 2013
- "Black Onyx scratched from Kentucky Derby". The Associated Press. Yahoo. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- The New Road To The Kentucky Derby
- 2013-14 ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY
- Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Standings Mar. 16, 2013
- Kentucky Derby 2014 points standings April 19, 2014
- Road to the Kentucky Derby 2015
- Road to the Kentucky Derby 2016