'Our primary driving motive is to create new fans for horse racing,' said
Churchill Downs Inc. chairman and CEO 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.'
Officially named 'Road to the Kentucky Derby', the point system will feature
36 stakes races for three-year-olds, including 17 marquee events. The 17
marquee races, called the 'Kentucky Derby Championship Series' will be run
over a 10 week period leading to the Kentucky Derby. The 139th edition of the
Run for the Roses will held on Saturday, May 4.
'The new system, which gives us greater stability,' Evans continued,
'represents historical relevancy and helps to ensure our longstanding mission
of assembling the finest group of three-year-olds in the starting gate for a
race at the classic distance of 1 1/4 miles on the first Saturday in May. 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.'
The top four finishers in each stakes will receive points at varying levels
according to the historical importance of the race. The series will be divided
into two phases: The 'Kentucky Derby Prep Season' and 'Kentucky Derby
The 'Prep Season' will have 19 stakes of at least a mile in distance over both
dirt and synthetic tracks. Points will be awarded to the top four finishers in
each race on a 10-4-2-1 scale. One overseas race, England's Royal Lodge, will
be the only turf event.
The 'Kentucky Derby Championship Series' will consist of three parts involving
the 17 marquee races. These events will be run at no shorter than a mile both
on dirt or synthetic surfaces.
Eight races make up the first leg: the Risen Star (Fair Grounds), Fountain of
Youth (Gulfstream Park), Gotham (Aqueduct), Tampa Bay Derby (Tampa Bay Downs),
San Felipe (Santa Anita), Rebel (Oaklawn Park), Spiral (Turfway Park) and
Sunland Derby (Sunland Park) -- with a 50-20-10-5 point scale.
The second leg has seven stakes races: Florida Derby (Gulfstream Park), UAE
Derby (Dubai), Louisiana Derby (Fair Grounds), Wood Memorial (Aqueduct), Santa
Anita Derby (Santa Anita), Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn Park) and Blue Grass
(Keeneland) -- that are worth 100-40-20-10 with the final leg having two 'Wild
Card' events as a last chance opportunity for horses to gain added points. The
'Wild Card' races will be the Lexington (Keeneland) and Derby Trial (Churchill
Downs) with a 20-8-4-2 scale.
The top 20 point earners will earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby when more than
20 horses are entered for the race. A similar program will be used to select
the Kentucky Oaks starting field.