Friday, 15 June 2012
: A qualifying points system will determine the field for the Kentucky Derby in future years.
Churchill Downs announced that it has established a points system, dubbed the "Road to the Kentucky Derby," comprising 36 races thast will replace the graded stakes performance format that has determined Derby starters since 1986.
"Our primary driving motive is to create new fans for horse racing," said chairman and chief executive officer Bob Evans.
"We're implementing a more fan-friendly, cohesive and simplified system that should create compelling drama and appeal to a wider customer base.
"Fans, as well as the owners and trainers of the horses, will know exactly which races are included and what races matter the most based on a sliding scale of points.
"Additionally, the new system, which gives us greater stability, represents historical relevancy and helps to ensure our longstanding mission of assembling the finest group of 3-year-olds.
"We want to maximize the quality of the Derby field and protect the integrity of the race, while respecting the tradition and relevance of paths taken to the race by previous Kentucky Derby winners and prominent starters."
There will be two phases in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, with points allotted to the first four finishers in the designated races.
The first phase will be known as the "Kentucky Derby Prep Season," a period between September through February that will consist of 19 races at least a mile in distance run over dirt or synthetic in the US as well as the G2 Royal Lodge Stakes at Newmarket in the UK.
The first four finishers in those races will be awarded points on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
The points will increase during the second phase, known as the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series," which will get underway in late February/early March.
In the first leg of the series, 3-year-olds will be awarded points based on a 50-20-10-5 scale in the G2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds; G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream; G3 Gotham at Aqueduct; G2 Tampa Bay Derby; G2 San Felipe at Santa Anita; G2 Rebel at Oaklawn; G3 I Spiral at Turfway and G3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park
In the second leg of the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series," the points scale will be 100-40-20-10 in the premier spring races.
They are the GI Florida Derby at Gulfstream; G2 UAE Derby at Meydan; G2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds; GI Wood Memorial at Aqueduct; GI Santa Anita Derby; GI Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn and GI Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
There will also be two "Wild Card" races with a points scale of 20-8-4-2, the G3 Lexington at Keeneland and the G3 Derby Trial at Churchill.
Fillies can only earn points toewards a Derby start by running in the races that are part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby but they will also be credited with points in the new "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series.