The 147th running of the $3 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) will be run Saturday, May 1, 2021 and for the seventh consecutive year, a tiered point system in select races will determine who qualifies to America’s greatest race. Each year 20 horses have the once in a lifetime chance to run in the Kentucky Derby. To earn a spot in the starting gate, they must travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of designated races at tracks across the country and around the world. Points are awarded to the top four finishers in each race. The 20 horses with the most points will earn a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
Churchill Downs introduced the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” to provide a potential entry in the Kentucky Derby for a horse based in Japan and the "European Road to the Kentucky Derby" extending an invite to European horsemen as well.