There are 7 races that award 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, 8 races that award 50 points, two wildcard races that hand out 20 points to the winner, and finally there are no less than 19 races in which the winner is awarded 10 points.
Yesterday’s Illinois Derby carried zero Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
Connecting the dots, it stands to reason that each and every one of the 36 races that carry the prestige of Kentucky Derby points are in fact better races than Illinois’ richest dirt race. Surely they must be complete with both more quality top-to-bottom fields, and produce a more representative winner.
A more ridiculous statement likely has not been made on this year’s Derby trail.
No, Churchill Downs (the lord and master of those all-important Kentucky Derby points), races like Newmarket’s Royal Lodge Stakes, Woodbine’s Grey Stakes, Oaklawn Park’s Smarty Jones, Tampa Bay Downs’ Sam F. Davis Stakes, and Meydan's UAE Derby, just to name a few, are not superior races to the Illinois Derby … far from it. And there are others out of that large list of 36 races that are in fact weaker than the Illinois Derby; certainly Churchill Downs’ own Derby Trial should be a part of that list.
The premier race at Hawthorne produced a deep and solid field of 14 yesterday. I have little doubt that members of this year's Illinois Derby will go on to win stakes races this year and beyond. And as far as the winner, Departing, I consider him one of the best three-year-olds in the nation.
Is the 2013 Illinois Derby inferior to the 36 races on the Kentucky Derby qualifying list? No. Rather I believe it to be in the top 25% of these races.