09/12/2016 2:36PM

Japanese races to award one Kentucky Derby berth

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Churchill Downs will award a Japanese horse an automatic berth in next year’s Kentucky Derby under a new program assigning points to participants in two Japanese stakes races, the track announced on Monday.

The two one-mile dirt races at Tokyo Racecourse will be the Cattleya Sho for 2-year-olds on Nov. 26 and the Hyacinth for 3-year-olds, expected to be run “early in 2017,” according to a release from Churchill and the Japan Racing Association.

The two-race series is structured along the lines of a points system Churchill implemented in 2013 to designate starters in the Kentucky Derby, which is the most prestigious race in North America. Under Churchill’s system, the top 20 points earners in a series of 2-year-old and 3-year-old stakes races are allowed to start in the Derby, provided the horses were nominated to the Triple Crown.

The new Japanese series has the potential to reduce to 19 the number of Derby starting berths open to horses participating in the larger series. In a release, Churchill said the horse earning the most points in the two-race Japanese series will be offered an invitation to compete in the Derby, and if the invitation is accepted, one slot will be reserved for the Japanese horse.

This year, Lani became only the second horse based in Japan to run in the Derby. Lani, who was bred in Kentucky, earned his spot in the Derby by winning the United Arab Emirates Derby, a Dubai race that is part of the points-based system established by Churchill for Derby qualifiers. Lani finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby under jockey Yutaka Take, who is enormously popular in Japan.

The Kentucky Derby simulcast is not available in Japan, which strictly limits the number of foreign races that can be offered in the country for betting. Japan’s betting market is one of the largest in the world, however, and Churchill, like other U.S. companies, is eager to make inroads into the market.

Also on Monday, Churchill said that the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs would replace the Grey Stakes at Woodbine in the 2016-17 points series for the 2017 Derby. The Sam F. Davis is a dirt race for 3-year-olds usually held in February, while the Grey Stakes is a race for 2-year-olds conducted over Woodbine’s artificial surface.

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Date
Race
Distance
Track
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
9/17/16 Iroquois 1 1/16M
Churchill Downs
10 4 2 1
10/1/16 FrontRunner 1 1/16M
Santa Anita
10 4 2 1
10/8/16 Champagne 1M
Belmont
10 4 2 1
10/8/16 Breeders' Futurity 1 1/16M
Keeneland
10 4 2 1
11/5/16 BC Juvenile 1 1/16M 
Santa Anita
10 4 2 1
11/16/16 Delta Downs Jackpot 1 1/16M
Delta Downs
10 4 2 1
11/26/16 Remsen 1 1/8M
Aqueduct
10 4 2 1
11/26/16 Kentucky Jockey Club 1 1/16M
Churchill Downs
10 4 2 1
11/26/16 Cattleya Sho 1M
Tokyo
40 16 8 1
12/10/16 Los Alamitos Futurity 1 1/16M
Los Alamitos
10 4 2 1
1/7/17 Jerome 1 mile 70 yds
Aqueduct
10 4 2 1
1/7/17 Sham 1M
Santa Anita
10 4 2 1
1/16/17 Smarty Jones 1M Oaklawn Park 10 4 2 1
1/21/17 Lecomte 1M 70 yds
Fair Grounds
10 4 2 1
1/28/17 Withers 1 1/16M
Aqueduct
10 4 2 1
2/4/17 Holy Bull 1 1/16M
Gulfstream
10 4 2 1
2/4/17 Robert B. Lewis 1 1/16M
Santa Anita
10 4 2 1
2/11/17 Sam F. Davis 1 1/16M Tampa Bay Downs 10 4 2 1
2/11/17 El Camino Real Deby 1 1/8M    Golden Gate 10 4 2 1
2/20/17 Southwest 1 1/16M
Oaklawn Park
10 4 2 1

Kentucky Derby Championship Series

Date
Race
Distance
Track
Winner
Beyer
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
Charts & Analysis
2/25/17 Risen Star 1 1/16M
Fair Grounds
    50 20 10 5  
3/4/17 Fountain of Youth 1 1/16M
Gulfstream
    50 20 10 5  
3/4/17 Gotham 1 1/16M
Aqueduct
    50 20 10 5  
3/11/17 Tampa Bay Derby 1 1/16M
Tampa Bay Downs
    50 20 10 5  
3/11/17 San Felipe 1 1/16M
Santa Anita
    50 20 10 5  
3/18/17 Rebel 1 1/16M
Oaklawn
    50 20 10 5  
3/25/17 UAE Derby 1 3/16M
Meydan
    100 40 20 10  
3/25/17 Spiral 1 1/8M
Turfway Park 
    50 20 10 5  
3/26/17 Sunland Derby 1 1/8M
Sunland Park
    50 20 10 5  
4/1/17 Florida Derby 1 1/8M       Gulfstream     100 40 20 10  
4/1/17 Louisana Derby 1 1/8M      Fair Grounds     50 20 10 5  
4/8/17 Wood Memorial 1 1/8M
Aqueduct
    100 40 20 10  
4/8/17 Blue Grass 1 1/8M
Keeneland
    100 40 20 10  
4/8/17 Santa Anita Derby 1 1/8M
Santa Anita
    100 40 20 10  
4/15/17 Arkansas Derby 1 1/8M
Oaklawn Park
    100 40 20 10  
4/15/17 Lexington 1 1/16M
Keeneland
    10 4 2 1  

* Race dates and distances to be announced by host track; date based on previous year’s placement.

Billi Lyon More than 1 year ago
Lessee...No Japanese horse ever has done anything in the Derby. Lani was a joke. No Dubai horse ever has done anything in the Derby. Lani again, Mubtaahij, etc etc.

Yet the American 2YO race of the year is worth peanuts to get into our Derby while an obscure 2YO race in protectionist Japan guarantees a start, as does the painfully irrelevant UAE Derby.

Churchill Downs, another American corporation selling out America.
Stephen Craig More than 1 year ago
It's not about getting the best horses in the derby. It's a sell out!
CarsoniPH More than 1 year ago
Brought to you by the same people who run advertisements for TwinSpires across every race of every track they own. It's only about the money for them.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
I think you're underestimating the Japanese . They started aiming at Europe's to grass races a few years ago and have done very well . They have very good horses and their racing is top notch . Some of the races have the highest purses in the world .
MrBruggenthies More than 1 year ago
The point amounts for the BC Juvenile is incorrect.  They are doubled what are listed here.
Dahorsecapper More than 1 year ago
horrible decision. they should run 24 then and not 20 anymore really make it a spectacle.

Essentially some cheap claimer from Japan who runs in 2 very mediocre races and gets  the most points could get a start in the Derby. 

I would compare it to someone running here in the USA and winning some race at Turf Paradise and Thistle Downs and getting in. 

Horrible , Horrible , Horrible .  


Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
I think you're underestimating the Japanese horses . They have some of the best horses in the world . And the purses are tremendous . The last few years their horses have started shipping everywhere and winning big races. 
Scott More than 1 year ago
just a crazy thought but maybe Churchill is seeing that this point system is leading to chalk after chalk so they are trying to confuse the betting interests...I doubt it and the point system effectively eliminates sprinters
Steve Kendall More than 1 year ago
UAE Derby 100 Points????  Has any horse who won this race ever finish in the top 5???  Great prep race also....   What Garbage...  Nice point system.. What is it Favorite won 6 of last 7 years after going 1 for 30 before stupid point system????   Great race you can start calling it the Kentucky Joke Garbage!!!!
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
Yes. Master of Hounds 2011
Christopher Olson More than 1 year ago
My thoughts are...why doesn't Santa Anita just run The California Derby on the first Saturday in May?  $2 million race...and the winner won't have to ship this year.  
Christopher Olson More than 1 year ago
Didn't War Emblem come out of the Illinois Derby a few years ago.  Churchill Downs complete disregard for the sport shows over and over again.  
Steve Kendall More than 1 year ago
He sure did!!  But Illinois Derby is run at Hawthorne and Churchill owns Arlington.   Only reason why that race is out!!!