On August 9, Churchill Downs officially unveiled the 2014 Kentucky Derby Points Series. For the second consecutive year this qualification system will decide which three-year-olds earn a spot in the starting gate for the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
In one of a few changes made, the total number of qualification stakes races has
been reduced from 36 in the 2012-13 season to 34. One of the biggest
adjustments from last year is where it
all begins. To my delight, the race that kicks things off will not be located
all the way across the pond. Instead, to the chagrin of some that are not the
biggest fans of CDI, the road begins where it ends; Louisville, KY.
we turn the page and glance at this year’s field in the 2013 G3 Iroquois Stakes
let’s take a look at the tweaks that have been made to the qualification
system. We begin with my pros.
year the start to the new points system began with the Royal Lodge Stakes at
Newmarket. When the 2013 Kentucky Derby series was announced this was the race
that received the most attention for the sheer amount of confusion it created. Two things stood out; that it was raced outside of
North America and on turf.
once everybody started dissecting it is when the most obvious question started to
roll in. Had any Royal Lodge entry ever started in the Kentucky Derby? The
answers were few and the only one that came to mind was the 2004 Juvenile
winner Wilko who later finished 6th in the Kentucky Derby.
it turned out, the points awarded were all for naught as none of the top four
finishers really tried to pursue to the 2013 Kentucky Derby. Analysis: Fail.
But, at least Churchill Downs got the message and dropped this race from the
with addition of the Iroquois Stakes I really enjoy seeing the Jerome Handicap make it as qualifier this season. Raced at Aqueduct and over a distance of 1 Mile
and 70 yards, the Jerome is just too historic to be left out. Not only is it
one of the oldest stakes races in North America but it is also one of the most
beloved Wood Memorial prep races.
final pro I’m going to mention is about the scoring in general. Specifically,
it’s about the scoring within the 15 races that make up the Championship
Series. Beginning with the Fountain of Youth Stakes next February the points
make the jump from 10-4-2-1 to 50-20-10-5. From there it’s not until late March
before the major preps take over and the points elevate to 100-40-20-10.
thing I like about this scoring the most is that it remains the same as it did
last season. I believe the points awarded within these races are fair and that
last year they helped shape an accurate field of horses that belonged in the
starting gate. At this stage in the game distance is key and all of these races in my opinion are worth an automatic entry into the Kentucky Derby.
maybe all of them except one or two. Here is where I am undecided and still
have a few questions. The first is if the Sunland Derby deserves a spot in the
Championship Series. Last year I was against it due to the fact that besides
Mine that Bird the race has yet to produce a significant contender. I’m still leaning
that direction but we’re also still waiting to see if the jump in value will
produce a live one.
you recall, last year’s winner Governor Charlie had to be sidelined after winning
the Sunland Derby in impressive fashion. Since I was not in his corner I was anxiously
waiting to see if he would prove me wrong. Unfortunately, he wasn’t ready and so
the question surrounding this races’ value still remains.
I’m still unsure about the UAE Derby. I do not question the class that competes
in this race but that doesn’t mean I believe it should be worth 170 points.
Based on its history it doesn’t have the stats to prove that I’m wrong. Maybe I’m
missing something but I just hope that the winner of the UAE Derby doesn’t get
awarded 100 points only because the date of the race; right in the middle of
the major prep season.
now it’s on to my cons.
the way in almost everybody’s book are two races; Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and
Illinois Derby. Oh boy, where to begin.
no denying that the Juvenile season is completely different from the sophomore year.
To this day we’ve only seen one Juvenile Champ ever come back to win the derby.
In fact, the Juvenile winner rarely starts in the Kentucky Derby. But, does
that mean that the accomplishment should be diminished? My opinion on this
topic remains as it did last year; it should not be a win and you’re in race
but definitely worth more than 10 points to the winner.
there’s the Illinois Derby, a historic race that seems to have lost its way. Or
was it pushed in the wrong direction by CDI? There is much discussion
regarding the relationship here, especially since CDI owns the big track in
Chicago, Arlington Park. But, I’m not going to focus on that part of the
let’s talk about a horse named Departing. Some will argue that if he was so
good then why was he entered in the Illinois Derby, a non-kyderby qualifier?
Fair question but to that I ask; if Hawthorne can still attract a horse like
this then why is it still being left out in the cold? And how long will this
last before the Illinois Derby is allowed back in? Even if it doesn’t qualify as a
Championship Series event by CDI’s standards then I believe it still deserves a spot in the series
a nutshell, that’s what I’m thinking about the 2014 Kentucky Derby series before the
road begins this weekend. Regardless of some the things I’d like to see
different, I’m still a fan and I’m ready for the show to begin at the Downs
after Dark (night racing this Saturday). So, the only other question to ask is…….who’s
going be our first horse to reach 10 points?
Entries: 2013 Iroquois Stakes
Good luck to all the Derby hopefuls and dreamers this season. We wish everyone a safe trip and look forward to following you all the way from start to finish.