With $2million guaranteed, many more then the 20 allowed will wish to take part and so a tiered points system will determine who gets a starting gate at Churchill Downs.
Now billed as the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’, a series of designated races from around the US have points attached to them for the first four finishers. The 20 horses with the most points whose connections want to and are fit to compete can then get a spot.
Churchill Downs recently added the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” to given potential runners from there a chance to enter, adding this year the European road as well.
While overseas horses can technically qualify using this points system, you will see how difficult it is when looking at the weighting of the points in the races concerned. In truth, any overseas owners looking to get into the Kentucky Derby will probably have targeted the previous season’s Breeders’ Cup.
All of the 2017 races (when the contenders are still two-year-olds) offer points of 10-4-2-1 (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th) with the exception of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile which offers 20-8-4-2.
In 2018, some of the first round of races again offer similar points to contenders, however things hot up nearer race time in Kentucky with the Louisiana Derby, the UAE Derby, the Florida Derby, the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby all offering 100-40-20-10.
While this is happening, European contenders at Kempton and Dundalk are being offered 20-8-4-2 and at Newcastle in March 30-12-6-3 which doesn’t really offer too much hope, unless they have already gotten some points in the bag from the previous season.
As of now, the only European contender to have run well in two different trials is John Gosden’s Roaring Lion who finished 1st in the Group 1 Royal Lodge Stakes before running a good second in the Racing Post Trophy, gaining 14 points which for context would put him level with second placed Bolt D’Oro in the current standings. Bolt D’Oro is favorite for the race too.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Gosden runs him at Newcastle in order to rack up more points, or even over in Dubai as a little European flavor wouldn’t go amiss in this race.
In terms of the main series, the standings are in their infancy but show us at this point who ranks where at the end of the contenders’ two-year-old season:
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As you can see points mean more than earnings, though their relative earnings will be used to separate horses who are tied meaning the best AND most valuable races are targeted by trainers in order to guarantee themselves a place in the field.
There have been some spectacular Kentucky Derby moments over the years and this year’s race looks like being another classic.
As soon as we known the final field is known, our experts will be on hand to give you a more in-depth analysis of the runners and inform you how to bet the Kentucky Derby successfully.