Crying the Blues: Kentucky Derby Point System

Have you ever looked at a trainer or an owner and just thought, “wow, what a whiner, what a baby. Just shut up and do what is best for your horse?” Right now, I’m looking at several who are moaning and whining about the new Derby Points system and thinking that exact quote.
Personally I like the system. It does have its flaws, not including the Illinois Derby is one of them. I think that pretty much discrediting two year old form and early Derby preps is another, but overall the system has the basic bottom line I have wanted to see. That is the removal the emphasis on big money juvenile races while focusing on races run at three.

They system in a nutshell does just that. Early on the Derby trail, and late Juvenile races do earn you points, a very little amount, but they do earn you points to the Kentucky Derby. The second round of preps earns you more points, and the third and final round earns you a great deal of points. This allows late bloomers, who may not have otherwise made the Derby, a shot to do so. It also weeds out those who may have earned their money in sprints or as precious juveniles and haven’t progressed.

You would think trainers would welcome this style, especially those who have those late bloomers, but it would seem they don’t, and they aren’t hiding their discontent. Some trainers seem to feel that with this new system it is all of a sudden ok to push their horse, just to make the race. I’m sorry, it’s not and that can often times ruin a horse.
The trainer of Itsmyluckyday, the winner of the Gulfstream Park Derby, Eddie Plesa Jr. says “But what’s ideal for my horse might not get him into the Derby, so I have to sort through that.”
Actually, no, Mr. Plesa, you don’t. You do what is right by your horse. If he doesn’t get into the Derby then it wasn’t meant to be. Nobody’s fault, maybe something was wrong, maybe the horse isn’t ready. Either way it is your job to manage the best interests of your horse along with that of its owners, and rushing or pushing your horse to the Derby and risking the possibility of ruining him is not in the best interests of either.
Todd Pletcher, while he disagrees with the lack of weight the new point system put on the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, seems to understand the sentiment I just mentioned. Saying that he has talked to the owners and have decided that Shanghai Bobby, soon to be named Juvenile Champion, will have two preps. If by some reason his charge does not accumulate enough points in his two preps then he will be pointed to the Preakness. “Life goes on,” as Pletcher so aptly put it.
In short, quit your moaning, quit your crying, and for god’s sake quit you whining. It won’t get you anywhere. Changes happens, you can either go with it and adapt or sulk and get left behind. Train your horses how you’d normally train them and quit fussing. There are far worse things in the sport of horse racing, this isn’t one of them.

Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college, she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at Virginia Intermont College and then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010, Laura began writing for Horse Racing Nation and has also contributed to Lady and the Track, TwinSpires and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter.

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