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Kentucky Derby Revamps Qualifying

I like the changes. Plain and simple. I like the fact that Churchill Downs is actively devaluing 2 year old stakes money and increasing the value of performance on the 3 year old Derby Prep circuit.

Quick rundown (all quotes courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal):

The plan calls for 36 races, as opposed to about 185 races worldwide that counted toward Derby selection under the previous arrangement.

The 2 year old season changes drastically:

The first is called the Kentucky Derby Prep Season, typically spanning stakes from late September through late February. That will offer a 10-4-2-1 point scale for the top four finishers.

The early 3 year old campaign changes too:

Next is the first of a three-phase Kentucky Derby Championship Season, which typically will span the 10-week run-up to the Derby. Races in the first phase of the Championshp Season will offer a 50-20-10-5 point scale.

And finally, they drop the hammer with the major Derby Preps:

These races will encompass the biggest events: the Florida Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby, Toyota Blue Grass and Louisiana Derby, while also including the $2 million UAE Derby in Dubai. Those races will offer a 100-40-20-10 point scale.

And then one final shot to gain points:

Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes two weeks before the Derby and Churchill Downs’ opening-night Derby Trial a week before the Run for the Roses. Those points (20-8-4-2) could put a "bubble" horse over the top.

More details after the jump.

They've done a very good job, in my opinion. Here's the technical specifics

• No race less than a mile in distance will be part of the Derby point system.

• The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner (as well as the winners of big-money races such as the $1 million Delta Jackpot) won’t be guaranteed a Derby berth without having accomplished something else.

• No races restricted to fillies will generate Derby points.

• The $1 million Kentucky Oaks will have a parallel system, but with some sprints included in the series determining which 14 three-year-old fillies start. If a filly runs against boys in a designated Derby prep, any points earned there will count toward both the Derby and Oaks.

• If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker becomes earnings in nonrestricted stakes races, whether they are graded or not.

So, here's the scoring system in short:

Time Frame Points
2yo Circuit September - February 10-4-2-1
Minor Derby Preps February - Derby Day 50-20-10-5
Major Derby Preps February - Derby Day 100-40-20-10

Really takes the punch the 2yo stakes circuit had out of the equation. The fact that no races contested at less than a mile or on turf (in the US) have any impact is very interesting. Clearly Churchill was not happy with the fields they were getting under the current system. I think it's a good move, at first glance. We will see how it actually shakes out next spring.

I, unfortunately, don't have time to look at what kind of points this year's field had, but I'll try to post some of them in the comments throughout the day.

The whole article from the Courier-Post can be found here.