Kentucky Derby New Point System

They’ve done it with NASCAR. They’ve done it with tennis, golf and darts. Now thoroughbred racing has its own point system to generate more interest in the Sport of Kings. To race in the 2014 Kentucky Derby , the horse must qualify by earning enough points in the prep races. It’s called, appropriately enough, the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Other sports have had their ups and downs converting to the point system, but it looks like a great fit for horse racing. In 1986, the folks at Churchill Downs started determining the 20 qualifiers for the Kentucky Derby by adding up their earnings in graded stakes races. This was a fairly reasonable way to separate the best horses from the pack, but it was far from perfect.

More importantly, people didn’t seem to get it. Churchill Downs polled over 300 sports fans from across the United States and found that 83% of them didn’t understand how a horse qualified for the Kentucky Derby. That was the ultimate motivation behind the switch to the point system. Now horse lovers have a “league” of their own to follow.

The 2014 Road to the Kentucky Derby features 34 races, divided roughly into two halves: the Kentucky Derby Prep Season(18 races) and the Kentucky Derby Championship Series (16 races). As the season goes on, the races become more important and more points are awarded to the top performers. The top 20 horses at the end of the season will qualify for the Kentucky Derby on May 3; the next four horses will be waitlisted and can join the field in the event of a scratch.

Should there be a tie in the point standings, the tie-breaker will go to whichever horse has earned more money in non-restricted stakes races, graded or ungraded. Dead heats in individual races will see the two (or more) horses in question split their points evenly. Any fillies who earn points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby will also have those points added to their total for the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Here is the full schedule for the 2014 Road to the Kentucky Derby, already in progress.

Kentucky Derby Prep Season

Note: 10 points for first, four points for second, two points for third and one point for fourth.

Sept. 7, 2013: Iroquois (1 1/16 Mile, Dirt, Churchill Downs)

Sept. 28, 2013: FrontRunner (1 1/16 Mile, Dirt, Santa Anita)

Oct. 5, 2013: Breeders’ Futurity (1 1/16 Mile, Synthetic, Keeneland)

Oct. 5, 2013: Champagne (1 Mile, Dirt, Belmont)

Oct. 6, 2013: Grey (1 1/16 Mile, Synthetic, Woodbine)

Nov. 2, 2013: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (1 1/16 Mile, Dirt, Santa Anita)

Nov. 23, 2013: Delta Downs Jackpot (1 1/16 Mile, Dirt, Delta Downs)

Nov. 30, 2013: Remsen (1 1/8 Mile, Dirt, Aqueduct)

Nov. 30, 2013: Kentucky Jockey Club (1 1/16 Mile, Dirt, Churchill Downs)

Jan. 4, 2014: Jerome (1 Mile 70 Yards, Dirt, Aqueduct)

Jan. 11, 2014: Sham (1 Mile, Dirt, Santa Anita)

Jan. 18, 2014: Lecomte (1 Mile 70 Yards, Dirt, Fair Grounds)

Jan. 20, 2014: Smarty Jones (1 Mile, Dirt, Oaklawn)

Jan. 25, 2014: Holy Bull (1 Mile, Dirt, Gulfstream)

Feb. 1, 2014: Withers (1 1/16 Mile, Dirt, Aqueduct)

Feb. 8, 2014: Robert B. Lewis (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Santa Anita)

Feb. 15, 2014: El Camino Real Derby (1 1/8 Miles, Synthetic, Golden Gate)

Feb. 17, 2014: Southwest (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Oaklawn)


Kentucky Derby Championship Series

First Leg

Note: 50 points for first, 20 points for second, 10 points for third and 5 points for fourth.

Feb. 22, 2014: Fountain of Youth (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Gulfstream)

Feb. 22, 2014: Risen Star (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Fair Grounds)

Mar. 1, 2014: Gotham (1 1/16, Dirt, Aqueduct)

Mar. 8, 2014: Tampa Bay Derby (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Tampa Bay Downs)

Mar. 8, 2014: San Felipe (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Santa Anita)

Mar. 15, 2014: Rebel (1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Oaklawn)

Mar. 22, 2014: Spiral (1 1/8 Miles, Synthetic, Turfway)

Mar. 23, 2014: Sunland Derby (1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Sunland)


Second Leg

Note: 100 points for first, 40 points for second, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth.

Mar. 29, 2014: Florida Derby (1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Gulfstream)

Mar. 29, 2014: Louisiana Derby (1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Fair Grounds)

Mar. 29, 2014: UAE Derby (1 3/16 Miles, Synthetic, Meydan)

Apr. 5, 2014: Wood Memorial (1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Aqueduct)

Apr. 5, 2014: Santa Anita Derby (1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Santa Anita)

Apr. 12, 2014: Arkansas Derby (1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, Oaklawn Park)

Apr. 12, 2014: Blue Grass (1 1/8 Miles, Synthetic, Keeneland)


Wild Card

Note: 20 points for first, eight points for second, four points for third and two points for fourth.

Apr. 19, 2014: Lexington (1 1/16 Miles, Synthetic, Keeneland)

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