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Kentucky Derby Entry Rules Changed for 2013

By

The Twin Spires at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs home of the Kentucky Derby

© Cindy Pierson Dulay
Updated June 14, 2012

A Kentucky Derby "tradition" that many fans disliked will come to an end in 2013, as the system of graded stakes earnings to determine the 20-horse field will be replaced by a points system, similar to that used by the Breeders' Cup and by NASCAR, to determine who gets to go for the championship. The surprise announcement was made at 11:00am ET on Thursday June 14 at Churchill Downs, just 5 days after the conclusion of the 2012 Triple Crown season. A parallel system will be used for the Kentucky Oaks, which also used graded earnings until this year.

Rather than tallying earnings in any graded/group stakes anywhere in the world, the new "Road to the Kentucky Derby" will feature just 36 races overall. 17 marquee events in the final 10 weeks before the Derby will be called the "Kentucky Derby Championship Series". The "road" will be divided into two phases, each offering different points to the top 4 finishers:

"Kentucky Derby Prep Season" - 19 races on dirt or synthetic over distances of at least 1 mile, between late September and late February. There will be two races outside the United States: the Royal Lodge at Newmarket, England (the lone turf race in the series), and the Grey Stakes at Woodbine, Canada, that will also score points These races will award points on a 10-4-2-1 scale. Of the three Breeders' Cup races for juvenile males, only the Juvenile scores points, excluding the Juvenile Turf and Juvenile Sprint from consideration.

"Kentucky Derby Championship Series" - a 3-part series of 17 races on dirt or synthetic surfaces at distances over a mile, traditionally run in the final 10 weeks before the Derby. The first leg of this series includes the Risen Star, Fountain of Youth, Gotham, Tampa Bay Derby, San Felipe, Rebel, Spiral, and Sunland Derby, each offering a 50-20-10-5 point scale. The second leg, worth 100-40-20-10 points, features the Florida Derby, UAE Derby, Louisiana Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby, and the Blue Grass. The final leg are the two "wild cards", the Lexington and the Derby Trial, with a 20-8-4-2 point scale.

In the event of a dead-heat in a "Road to the Kentucky Derby" race, those horses will divide equally the points they would have received jointly had one beaten the other. If two or more horses have the same number of points, which can often be the case whenever a point system is introduced, the tiebreaker to get into the Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks will be earnings in non-restricted stakes races, whether they are graded or not. If a filly wants to run in the Kentucky Derby she can, but she'll have to earn her way into the field by accumulating points against open company just like the rest of the colts and geldings. Additionally, any points earned by a filly in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series against open company will be credited to her point total in the "Road to the Kentucky Oaks" series.

After commissioning a poll of more than 300 sports fans nationwide that showed 83% did not understand how a Thoroughbred qualified to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs officials decided to move forward with a change in the system. Churchill Downs president Kevin Flanery said, "People understand that the Kentucky Derby is the Super Bowl of horse racing, but they don't understand what the 'league' structure is and what the series is to get there. We think by simplifying this series with a point system, making it more cohesive and introducing the 'Kentucky Derby Championship Series' in the 10 weeks that precede the race can spark fan interest and engage the casual fan earlier. If there's compelling drama and people have a better understanding of what it takes to get into the Derby, we think there's a good chance they'll become more interested in our sport."

Asked about the future, Flanery added, "We've left room for growth and innovation. I can envision this as a 40-race series down the road. We plan to work with the racetracks that are part of the 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' to promote the series and help build business on days when their races take place. We see this new point-based series as something the serious handicapper and the casual sports fan can wrap their arms around – a clear, cohesive and understandable path to the Derby and one that will be fun to follow. It's a powerful marketing initiative that has the ability to get thousands of new fans to pay attention to our sport in advance of the Triple Crown. It will take time, but we want to be proactive and do something."

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY

Kentucky Derby Prep Season

Race Distance Track Location 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Royal Lodge 1 M (T) Newmarket England 10 4 2 1
Norfolk 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Breeders’ Futurity 1 1/16 M (S) Keeneland Kentucky 10 4 2 1
Champagne 1 M Belmont New York 10 4 2 1
Grey 1 1/16 M (S) Woodbine Canada 10 4 2 1
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Delta Downs Jackpot 1 1/16 M Delta Downs Louisiana 10 4 2 1
Remsen 1 1/8 M Aqueduct New York 10 4 2 1
Kentucky Jockey Club 1 1/16 M Churchill Downs Kentucky 10 4 2 1
CashCall Futurity 1 1/16 M (S) Hollywood Park California 10 4 2 1
Sham 1 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Smarty Jones 1 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 10 4 2 1
Lecomte 1 M 70 Y Fair Grounds Louisiana 10 4 2 1
Holy Bull 1 M Gulfstream Park Florida 10 4 2 1
Robert B. Lewis 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Sam F. Davis 1 1/16 M Tampa Bay Downs Florida 10 4 2 1
Withers 1 1/16 M Aqueduct New York 10 4 2 1
El Camino Real Derby 1 1/8 M (S) Golden Gate California 10 4 2 1
Southwest 1 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 10 4 2 1

Kentucky Derby Championship Series
Race Distance Track Location 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
First Leg of Series              
Risen Star 1 1/16 M Fair Grounds Louisiana 50 20 10 5
Fountain of Youth 1 1/16 M Gulfstream Park Florida 50 20 10 5
Gotham 1 1/16 M Aqueduct New York 50 20 10 5
Tampa Bay Derby 1 1/16 M Tampa Bay Downs Florida 50 20 10 5
San Felipe 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 50 20 10 5
Rebel 1 1/16 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 50 20 10 5
Spiral 1 1/8 M (S) Turfway Park Kentucky 50 20 10 5
Sunland Derby 1 1/8 M Sunland Park New Mexico 50 20 10 5
Second Leg of Series              
Florida Derby 1 1/8 M Gulfstream Park Florida 100 40 20 10
UAE Derby 1 3/16 M (S) Meydan Racecourse Dubai 100 40 20 10
Louisiana Derby 1 1/8 M Fair Grounds Louisiana 100 40 20 10
Wood Memorial 1 1/8 M Aqueduct New York 100 40 20 10
Santa Anita Derby 1 1/8 M Santa Anita California 100 40 20 10
Arkansas Derby 1 1/8 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 100 40 20 10
Blue Grass 1 1/8 M (S) Keeneland Kentucky 100 40 20 10
"Wild Card"              
Lexington 1 1/16 M (S) Keeneland Kentucky 20 8 4 2
The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial 1 M Churchill Downs Kentucky 20 8 4 2

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY OAKS

Kentucky Oaks Prep Season

Race Distance Track Location 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Fillies’ Mile 1 M (T) Newmarket England 10 4 2 1
Oak Leaf 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Alcibiades 1 1/16 M (S) Keeneland Kentucky 10 4 2 1
Frizette 1 M Belmont New York 10 4 2 1
Mazarine 1 1/16 M (S) Woodbine Canada 10 4 2 1
Pocahontas 1 M Churchill Downs Kentucky 10 4 2 1
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Delta Downs Princess 1 M Delta Downs Louisiana 10 4 2 1
Demoiselle 1 1/8 M Aqueduct New York 10 4 2 1
Golden Rod 1 1/16 M Churchill Downs Kentucky 10 4 2 1
Hollywood Starlet 1 1/16 M (S) Hollywood Park California 10 4 2 1
Old Hat 6 F Gulfstream Park Florida 10 4 2 1
Busanda 1 M Aqueduct New York 10 4 2 1
Santa Ynez 6 1/2 F Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Silverbulletday 1 M 70 Y Fair Grounds Louisiana 10 4 2 1
California Oaks 1 1/16 M (S) Golden Gate California 10 4 2 1
Santa Ysabel 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 10 4 2 1
Forward Gal 7 F Gulfstream Park Florida 10 4 2 1
UAE 1000 Guineas 1 M (S) Meydan Race Course Dubai 10 4 2 1
Martha Washington 1 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 10 4 2 1

Kentucky Oaks Championship Series
Race Distance Track Location 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
First Leg of Series              
UAE Oaks 1 3/16 M (S) Meydan Racecourse Dubai 50 20 10 5
Davona Dale 1 1/16 M Gulfstream Park Florida 50 20 10 5
Rachel Alexandra 1 1/16 M Fair Grounds Louisiana 50 20 10 5
Las Virgenes 1 M Santa Anita California 50 20 10 5
Honeybee 1 1/16 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 50 20 10 5
Cicada 6 F Aqueduct New York 50 20 10 5
Bourbonette Oaks 1 M (S) Turfway Park Kentucky 50 20 10 5
Sunland Park Oaks 1 1/16 M Sunland Park New Mexico 50 20 10 5
Second Leg of Series              
Fair Grounds Oaks 1 1/16 M Fair Grounds Louisiana 100 40 20 10
Gulfstream Oaks 1 1/8 M Gulfstream Park Florida 100 40 20 10
Santa Anita Oaks 1 1/16 M Santa Anita California 100 40 20 10
Ashland 1 1/16 M (S) Keeneland Kentucky 100 40 20 10
Comely 1 M Aqueduct New York 100 40 20 10
Fantasy 1 1/16 M Oaklawn Park Arkansas 100 40 20 10
"Wild Card"              
Beaumont 7 F (S) Keeneland Kentucky 20 8 4 2
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