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Points system to determine Kentucky Derby entry

Thu 14th, June 2012

Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - The process for determining entry into the Kentucky Derby will be changing beginning with the 139th Run for the Roses. A point system will replace the use of graded stakes earnings as the criteria for the 20 Kentucky Derby starters.

"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 Championship Series."

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.

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