Pocahontas winner's name chronicles amazing journey

After her impressive gate-to-wire, 2 1/4-length victory in Saturday's Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, GSN Racing LLC's Cristina's Journey was reported by trainer Dale Romans to have exited the race in good form.

Cristina's Journey wires Pocahontas

Cristina's Journey successfully stretched out to 1 1/16 miles on Saturday and led every step of the way home in Churchill Downs' Grade 2, $231,000 Pocahontas Stakes.

Lucky Player springs 11-1 upset in Iroquois

As the first race in the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" scoring series, and a "Win & You're In" for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Saturday's Grade 3, $115,500 Iroquois Stakes featured several promising two-year-olds at Churchill Downs. It wasn't the leading fancies, however, but the 11-1 shot Lucky Player who earned the Breeders' Cup ticket, and the 10 points toward the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Edging stablemate Bold Conquest by a neck, he topped the Steve Asmussen-trained exacta and also gave his freshman sire, two-time champion Lookin at Lucky, his first graded winner.

Los Alamitos Futurity Added to 2014-15 'Road to the Kentucky Derby' Series; Starlet Joins to 'Road to Kentucky Oaks'

The $500,000 Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade I) has been added to the list of races that comprise the 2014-15 “Road to the Kentucky Derby.” The series of 35 select races – 19 “Prep Season” races and 16 “Championship Series” races – will determine which horses qualify to the 141st running of the $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 2, 2015.

The 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity, a race formerly known as the Hollywood (1981-2006) and CashCall (2007-13) Futurity at the now-shuttered Betfair Hollywood Park, will be run for the first time at Los Alamitos Race Course – the home base for 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome – on Saturday, Dec. 20. The race produced six Kentucky Derby winners during its run at Hollywood Park.

“The robust commitments by the team at Los Alamitos suggest a strong desire to be included in our series, and we’re confident the race is likely to attract aspiring and compelling Derby prospects,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “We’re delighted to welcome the Los Alamitos Futurity to the Kentucky Derby ‘Prep Season.’”

Points awarded to the Top 4 finishers in the Los Alamitos Futurity will be 10-4-2-1 as part of the “Prep Season” that showcases foundation-building races over a minimum of one mile between September and mid-February. It commences Sept. 6 at the home of the Derby with the $100,000 Iroquois (GIII) over 1 1/16 miles.

The 16 significant events that comprise the “Kentucky Derby Championship Series” during the 10-week run-up to the first Saturday in May remain unchanged from a year ago.

This is the third consecutive year that Churchill Downs Racetrack will use a sliding scale of points awarded to the Top 4 finishers in choice races to determine preference for its 20-horse Derby field. At least 20 horses have entered the 1 ¼-mile classic for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds every year since 2004, and 14 of the last 16 years.

In the first two years of the point system, the horses that topped the leaderboard with 150 points each won the Kentucky Derby: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Orb in 2013 and Steve Coburn and Perry Martin’s California Chrome in 2014.

A similar series remains in place to qualify for the Derby’s sister race, the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 1, 2015. The lone change to the 31-race “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series is the addition of the $350,000 Starlet (GI), a 1 1/16-mile “Prep Season” race scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 13 at Los Alamitos. Like the Futurity, the Starlet also had been previously run at Hollywood Park.

Click here for the complete list of 2014-15 "Road to the Kentucky Derby" races.

HOW TO GET INTO THE KENTUCKY DERBY STARTING GATE – The Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by TwinSpires.com is a 35-race series that awards points to the Top 4 finishers in each race. The Top 20 point earners will earn a spot in the starting gate for the 141st running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975. At least 20 horses have entered the 1 ¼-mile race for 3-year-olds every year since 2004, and 14 of the last 16 years.

TIEBREAKERS – If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker is earnings in non-restricted stakes races. In the case of remaining ties, the additional starter(s) and/or also-eligible horses shall be determined by lot (aka a “shake”).

FILLIES – If a filly wants to run in the Kentucky Derby she can, but she’ll have to earn her way into the field by accumulating points against open company just like the rest of the colts and geldings. Additionally, any points earned by a filly in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series against open company will be credited to her point total in the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series.

DEAD-HEATS – In the event of a dead-heat (tie) in a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” race, those horses will divide equally the points they would have received jointly had one beaten the other.

SPLIT DIVISIONS – In the event a “Road to the Kentucky Derby” race is split into divisions and each division awards its originally published purse money, points will be awarded as scheduled for each division. If the originally published purse is halved for each division, points will be halved as well.

NOMINATIONS – Horses born in 2012 can be made eligible to run in the 2015 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown with a $600 early payment due by late January (date TBD). A late period for nominations at $6,000 each will close in late March (date TBD). In addition to the Triple Crown nomination fee, owners must pay $25,000 to enter the Derby by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, and an additional $25,000 to start. A horse not nominated to the Triple Crown with sufficient points may be supplemented for $200,000.

POST POSITION DRAW – The Kentucky Derby post position draw – a traditional “pill pull” in which horses’ entry blanks are pulled simultaneously with a numbered pill to determine what stall a horse will break from the starting gate – will be held at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, April 29, 2015, at 5 p.m. ET (live on NBCSN). Up to 24 horses may enter the race and four horses can be listed as “also eligible” and would be ranked in order accordingly; they could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 9 a.m. ET.

PRIZE MONEY – The Kentucky Derby winner will receive a gold trophy plus an estimated $1.24 million payday. A total of $400,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $200,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth and $60,000 to fifth.

BACKGROUND – Churchill Downs abandoned the graded stakes earnings criteria for the 2013 Kentucky Derby (used from 1986-2012) and proactively adopted a tiered point system to determine which horses would have preference for America’s greatest race. Today, a sliding scale of points is awarded to the Top 4 finishers in select races, and at the series’ end, the Top 20 point earners get first crack to start in the Kentucky Derby.

METRICS – More than $59.7 million was wagered on the 34-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series in 2013-14 with an average of 9.38 horses per race. Betting on the 16-race Championship Series totaled more $34.8 million and an average of 9.94 horses competed in each event. On Kentucky Derby Day, Churchill Downs had its second-largest crowd (164,909), second-highest all-sources betting handle ($186.6 million) and 15.3 million viewers watched the race on NBC. Combined Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby Day attendance was a record 277,977 and all-sources betting totaled $229.8 million, which was second only behind 2013’s $230.4 million.

ABOUT THE DERBY – To have a horse draped in the garland of roses while raising the solid gold trophy high atop the Kentucky Derby winner’s stand is the Holy Grail for horsemen around the world. Restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, horses only have one chance to win the Kentucky Derby, and it’s quite an accomplishment just to receive a berth in the starting gate. Approximately 23,500 Thoroughbreds were foaled in North America in 2012, and if history is any indication, about one percent of the crop will be nominated to next spring’s Triple Crown. Only 20 will be allowed to “Run for the Roses,” as the Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975. At least 20 horses have entered the race since 2004, and 14 of the last 16 years. Once a horse earns its coveted Kentucky Derby berth, it, in most cases, will race the extended 1 ¼-mile distance for the first time. A combination of speed and the stamina it takes to complete the final eighth of a mile in the Derby often determines a win or loss.

Click here for the schedule of races in the2014-15 'Road to the Kentucky Oaks' series.

HOW TO GET INTO THE KENTUCKY OAKS STARTING GATE – The “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” is a 31-race series that awards points to the Top 4 finishers in each race. The Top 14 point earners nominated to the Longines Kentucky Oaks will earn a spot in the starting gate for the 141st running of the Grade I, $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 1, 2015. The 1 1/8-mile Oaks is the nation’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies.

TIEBREAKERS – If two or more horses have the same number of points, the tiebreaker is earnings in non-restricted stakes races. In the case of remaining ties, the additional starter(s) and/or also-eligible horses shall be determined by lot (aka a “shake”).

DEAD-HEATS – In the event of a dead-heat (tie) in a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” race, those horses will divide equally the points they would have received jointly had one beaten the other.

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY POINTS VS. MALES – If a filly wants to run in the Kentucky Derby she can, but she’ll have to earn her way into the field by accumulating points against open company just like the rest of the colts and geldings. Additionally, any points earned by a filly in the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series against open company will be credited to her point total in the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” series.

SPLIT DIVISIONS – In the event a “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” race is split into divisions and each division awards its originally published purse money, points will be awarded as scheduled for each division. If the originally published purse is halved for each division, points will be halved as well.

NOMINATIONS – Fillies born in 2012 can be made eligible to run in the 2015 Longines Kentucky Oaks with a $200 early payment due by late February (date TBD). A late period for nominations at $1,500 each will close Wednesday, April 8, 2015. A supplemental nomination of $30,000 may be made at the time of entry. In addition to the Oaks nomination fee, owners must pay $5,000 to enter the Oaks by 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, and an additional $5,000 to start.

POST POSITION DRAW – The Longines Kentucky Oaks post position draw – a traditional “pill pull” in which horses’ entry blanks are pulled simultaneously with a numbered pill to determine what stall a horse will break from the starting gate – will be held in The Parlay Media Briefing Room on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 11 a.m. ET. Up to 18 horses may enter the race and four horses can be listed as “also eligible” and would be ranked in order accordingly; they could draw into the field should any horse(s) be scratched before scratch time on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 9 a.m. ET.

PRIZE MONEY – The Kentucky Oaks winner will receive a silver trophy plus an estimated $564,200 payday. A total of $182,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $91,000 to third, $45,500 to fourth; $27,300 to fifth; and $10,000 each to sixth through last.

 

Tonalist edges Commissioner for Belmont victory; California Chrome fourth

Robert S. Evans' Tonalist was making just his fifth lifetime start in Saturday's 146th edition of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes but that didn't stop the Tapit colt from running down Commissioner to post a head win in the "Test of the Champion."

Cal Chrome draws post 2 in Belmont, rates as 3-5 favorite for Triple Crown sweep

Kentucky Derby and Preakness hero California Chrome will break from post 2 in Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, where he will aim to end the Triple Crown drought that racing fans have endured since Affirmed's conquest in 1978. The flashy chestnut has been installed as the 3-5 favorite to make history in the 1 1/2-mile classic at Belmont Park, both the oldest and longest of the jewels of the Triple Crown.

California Chrome stars again in Preakness, Triple Crown bid up next

California Chrome continued to strut his stuff in Saturday's $1.5 million Preakness Stakes, posting a comfortable 1 1/2-length decision, and the phenomenal three-year-old can become only the 12th Thoroughbred to capture Triple Crown when he lines up for the Belmont Stakes in three weeks.

"He's an amazing horse," jockey Victor Espinoza said.

Sherman enjoying his new place in the history books with California Chrome

Steven Coburn and Perry Martin's homebred California Chrome carved his name in the history books Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs, earning himself the right to sleep in until 6 a.m. (EDT) Sunday morning in Barn 20 at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands Update for Sunday, May 4

CALIFORNIA CHROME (1st) – The chestnut colt California Chrome carved his name in the history books Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs, earning himself the right to sleep in until 6 o’clock Sunday morning at his Barn 20 new Kentucky home.

Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands Update

CALIFORNIA CHROME (1st) – The chestnut colt California Chrome carved his name in the history books Saturday afternoon at Churchill Downs, earning himself the right to sleep in until 6 o’clock Sunday morning at his Barn 20 new Kentucky home.