2016-17 ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD & SCHEDULE OF RACES
HOW TO GET INTO THE KENTUCKY DERBY STARTING GATE – The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a 35-race series that awards points to the Top 4 finishers in each race. The top point earners will earn a spot in the starting gate for the 143rd running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) on Saturday, May 6, 2017. 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 16 of the last 18 years.
JAPAN ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY – For 2016-17, Churchill Downs Incorporated has partnered with the Japan Racing Association to create a series of races in Japan that could annually produce a starter in the Kentucky Derby. The new “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” – which is separate from the 35-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series – includes two one-mile dirt stakes races at the famed Tokyo Racecourse: the Cattleya Sho for 2-year-olds on Nov. 26 and the Hyacinth for 3-year-olds to be run in early 2017. One position in the Kentucky Derby starting gate will be awarded to the horse that accrues the most points in the “Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby” and accepts an invitation to compete. If the top point-earner declines, the horse with the second-most points may accept and so on.
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 lifetime earnings. 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
– 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 2014 can
be made eligible to run in the 2017 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown with a $600
early payment due by Jan. 14,
2017. A late period for nominations at $6,000 each will be open Jan. 15,
2017 through March 20,
2017. A horse not nominated to the Triple Crown with sufficient points may be
supplemented at the time of entry for $200,000. In addition to the Triple Crown
nomination fee, owners must pay $25,000 to enter the Derby by 10 a.m. ET on
Wednesday, May 3, 2017, and an additional $25,000 to start.
– 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, May 3, 2017 from 5:30-6 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
5, 2017 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 point earners get first crack to start in the Kentucky 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 22,000
Thoroughbreds were foaled in North America in 2014, 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 16 of the last 18 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.