Churchill Downs releases new 34 race schedule 2013-14 ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ series

Twin Spires at Churchill Downs

Churchill Downs Racetrack officials in a press release announced that 34 races will be included in the 2013-14 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, including 16 significant events that comprise the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” over the 10 weeks that precede the first Saturday in May.

The 140th running of the Kentucky Derby will be run Saturday, May 3, 2014, and for the second consecutive year, a tiered point system in select races will determine who qualifies.

The total number of races in the series has been reduced by two. Two races have been added to and three others were removed from the “Prep Season”.

Churchill Downs’ Iroquois, which was previously staged in late October, has been moved to the track’s inaugural 12-date September Meet (Sept. 6-29) and will kick-start the series on Saturday, Sept. 7. The other new addition to the lineup is the Jerome at Aqueduct.

While Churchill Downs has added the Iroquois, it dropped its Derby Trial. A trio of “Prep Season” races also was removed from the schedule: the Royal Lodge, CashCall Futurity, and the Sam F. Davis.

Additionally, the points awarded to the Top 4 finishers in the lone remaining “Wild Card” race, the Lexington at Keeneland, have been halved from 20-8-4-2 to 10-4-2-1.

A year ago, Churchill Downs abandoned the 27-year-old graded stakes earnings criteria and proactively adopted a tiered point system to determine which horses would have preference for the Kentucky Derby.

“Prep Season” races award 10 points to the winner, 4 to the runner-up, 2 to third and 1 to fourth. Point values escalate by 5X to 10X for the “Championship Series,” which is comprised of the most meaningful springboard events within the 10-week run up to the Derby. Each race in the first leg of the “Championship Series” between Feb. 22-March 23 is worth 50 points to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 10 to third and 5 to fourth. The seven lucrative races staged three-to-five weeks ahead of the Derby offer lofty points worth twice as much as the first leg: 100 to first, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth.

As a result, the winners of races in the first leg and the Top 2 finishers of second leg races have the upper hand, and horses that earned points during the “Prep Season” could be in the mix with any Top 4 placings. Horses on the “bubble” looking to increase their point totals have the option of running in the Lexington, which serves as a “Wild Card” race.

A similar series remains in place for the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks,” the Derby’s $1 million companion event for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 2. 2014. The total number of races in the Oaks series has been reduced from 34 to 29 races.

Fillies are not excluded from running in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, but they must accrue points against open company in series races just like the rest of the colts and geldings in order to qualify. Any points earned by a Triple Crown-nominated filly in a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” race will be credited to her point total in the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series but not vice-versa.