08/27/2014 2:02PM

Few changes to Kentucky Derby, Oaks qualifying system


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs on Wednesday released the points schedules for determining eligibility to the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Oaks with minimal changes from the template established during the first two years of the system.

First implemented for the 2013 Derby and Oaks, the schedules use a graduated scale for allotting qualifying points for the respective races. Prep races deemed most important are given the most weight in determining the 20-horse cutoff for the Derby (and 14 for the Oaks).

The only substantive change from last year is the reinstatement of what now are the Los Alamitos Futurity and Starlet. Both races were used during the first year for the points system when contested as the CashCall Futurity and Hollywood Starlet at now-closed Betfair Hollywood Park, but both were dropped last year in something of a controversial move.

Churchill racetrack president Kevin Flanery said in a Wednesday media release that “the robust commitments by the team at Los Alamitos suggest a strong desire to be included in our series,” and that ultimately the decision was made to reinstate those races.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays

Both races will be run in December as part of what Churchill calls its “prep season,” with 10 eligibility points to the winner. There are 19 prep-season events toward the Derby and 17 toward the Oaks.

In all, 35 points events lead into the 141st Derby on May 2, with points awarded to the top four finishers in each race. The 16 most heavily weighted events are known as the “championship season” and are contested at later and more crucial junctures on the Derby trail; those races are worth 50 or 100 points to the winner. The 100-point races include traditional Derby preps such as the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, and Blue Grass Stakes.

For the 141st Oaks, which will be run May 1, there are 31 points events using essentially the same design, with 14 of them worth 50 to 100 points to the winner.

Both points series begin Friday, Sept. 5, with races at Churchill: the Grade 3 Iroquois in the male division and the Grade 2 Pocahontas for fillies. Both are prep-season races worth 10 points to the winner. Later this year, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Juvenile Fillies also are included in the respective prep-season schedules again.

Once again, Derby preps hosted by rival tracks such as the Sam F. Davis Stakes (Tampa Bay Downs) and Illinois Derby (Hawthorne) have not been designated by Churchill as points events.

Changes to the current points model have been debated in the industry, such as a way to allow fillies to make the Derby field while competing within their division along the way, but the status quo remains intact for the 2015 renewal.

Mike R More than 1 year ago
Since the Kentucky Derby point system is likely here to stay let's take it a step further. Award the highest point earner first selection for post, second highest point earner second choice, so on so forth. Works to the advantage of the horses which is something most everyone would like. If the long shots are stuck in the auxiliary gate or that god forsaken 1 hole then instead of those horses that now go off at 25 to 1 will go off at 50 to 1. The increase in handle for the favorites in favorable posts would offset the decline in handle for the long shots which will placate CDI's desire for maximum handle. At some point this might accidentally provoke the owner of an likely 80 to 1 shot stuck out in 19 post to save their $50,000 entry/starting fee. Perhaps a 1&1/8 miles with a $250,000 purse for three year olds called the "AUXILIARY" (or the whatever) would pull some out of the Derby. The owners still get to attend the Derby and they can tell their friends that their horse is in the Auxiliary, they can stop there and their friends will think they're in the Derby auxiliary gate.
Mike R More than 1 year ago
I will argue that the ONLY reason the point system for the Kentucky Derby was implemented was to keep the Illinois derby winner out of the Ky Derby. CDI'S Illinois "enemy" (strictly from a financial viewpoint) is Hawthorne. They couldn't make Hawthorne lower the Illinois derby purse which prior to point system earned the winner a spot in the Ky Derby. With the point system the winner of the Illinois derby gets NO points and CDI snubs their "enemy".
GARY More than 1 year ago
I would really like to see Hawthorne run the Illinois Derby the same day as the Kentucky Derby. Run it during the hour break before the KY Derby, about 20 to 30 minutes before. Invite the horses that just missed being eligible for the KY Derby. It would make for a good betting race and it would lower the amount bet on the KY Derby, since there would be people in line to bet Illinois. With it already being a big day for racing, Hawthorne should be able to post a nice handle on the card, as well. Maybe, that would get Churchill's attention, especially since there is nothing they could do about it.
Greg Stevens More than 1 year ago
The Illinois derby being run the same day as the Ky derby would never hurt the Ky Derby handle...it would just make the Illinois derby less exciting than it already is
Joe Quillen More than 1 year ago
That would never happen because that first weekend in May is Arlington's opening weekend. Oh yeah, Arlington is a CDI property.
L. More than 1 year ago
This point thing is a total joke. They include some races, and exclude others because of personal opinion and don't even allow for fillies to compete in the Derby. I'm actually surprised no one has taken this up in court as being discriminating and close to antitrust problems (monopoly).
Walter More than 1 year ago
It wouldn't qualify under antitrust laws. CD owns their race & can do what they would like. If owners want to run in different races they can do so. It's not a monopolistic situation
scott More than 1 year ago
where does it say fillies cant compete? all of these points races are open company.
Juan DE La Cruz More than 1 year ago
I hope this list be carried over in Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The top 30 or 40 horses in this list are the only one qualified to run in Preakness and Belmont. No outsiders will be allowed to run if they did not qualify accordingly.
Chas More than 1 year ago
When will someone call out Churchill Downs over Sam Davis and Illinois Derby are once again not involved...these are the type of races and distances that help developed Derby horses...enough with this petty stuff by Churchill Downs...if Churchill does not want to grow up and do what is best for the overall of the sport, than a complete boycott is needed of Churchill Downs from betting to attending the track...
Debra Medlock More than 1 year ago
Disappointed to read that fillies are once again fundamentally excluded from the Ky Derby and that historic pre-Derby races like the Illinois Derby are ignored. This industry really, really needs an oversite committee or commissioner like the major leagues do. None of this racetrack by racetrack equivalency of "It's my ball and I'm not letting you play with it." All that's doing is killing the popularity of the sport.
billybudd16 More than 1 year ago
Any filly worth their salt that ran in the KD, ran against colts prior to the Derby. Quit making this a sexist issue.
Mike Hummel More than 1 year ago
Eight Belles.