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Breeders' Cup 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

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.


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Older Comments about Crying the Blues: Kentucky Derby Point System...

Streetsensefan, I dont think it is completely valid to say those horses you mentioned would not have qualified. If the points system existed during those years, the trainers would have likely taken alternative paths to get their mounts into the race. The point system may not be perfect, but it emphasizes horses being at top form during the right time of year. To me the best potential long term effect of the points system will do is alter the mindset of breeders to try and breed horses to run 68 second 6 furlong races as two year olds and shift to try and breed 120 second 10 furlong horses as 3 year olds.
Really Laura? The point system is flawed. Think about this, 2 yr old BC champion may not qualify, no points for the Illinois Derby, I remeber War Emblem, an Illinois Derby winner , wiring the field to win the kentucky derby, Mine that Bird would not have qualified in 2009 based on this point system. As the next few months unfold, there will be heartbreak stories of good horses missing the derby. I already see on two of the three favorites in the Florida derby getting to the derby. The new players at Churchill have no concept of how to run a racetrack. Look a the number of nominations this year for Derby, all time low, proably becasue Don Richardson isn't there anymore. Laura, don't kid yourself that this is a good system....
They definitely have to tweak which races get points (Illinois Derby, the Jerome now that it has been moved in the schedule, at the very least the BC Juvenile Fillies) but the points system can be a lot more fair than the old graded earnings system. It will eliminate the one big race two year old winners (like Homeboy Kris) and the pure sprinters (like Trinniberg). I just wish they would cut the field to fourteen, as in the Kentucky Oaks. I think it would make the race safer for horses and jockes.
CauseforConcern. You aren't alone. Most people associate The Hambletonian with DuQuoin and not with any other track.
Thanks, Buckpasser, for the informative explanation. I only came into existence during the DuQuoin years, so, I thought it was their race.
At the NY state Fair at Syracuse. It was then moved to Goshen to the Historical Track because Syracuse did not want to run the race. Goshen staged the Hambletonian until 1956 when there were some issues with NY and the USTA over how harness racing was administered in NY. The Hambletonian Society then moved the race to DuQuoin from 1957 to 1980. When the Meadowlands was built in the 1970's, gov. Byrne and a delegation from NJ went to DuQuoin to meet with the Hambletonian Society to convince them to move it to NJ. They promised more money, more recognition for the race and a big family oriented day. Hence the move to the Meadowlands. It should be noted that while the race was held at DuQuoin, most people felt it would go back to Goshen
CauseforConcern. The Hambletonian has been run by the Hambletonian Society who decides where the race is held. The race started in 1926 and was held for three runnings at the S
Buckpasser/icyhotboo: You two seem to be harness aficionado's. My question to you, would be regarding the Hambletonian, which you mentioned. Why was the Hambletonian removed from the Illinois state fair in Duquoin, where it had resided for so many years, and, who might've been the powers-that-be that caused this to happen?
But the sentiment clearly applies here too
I thought that was baseball
There's no crying in horse racing
Couldn't agree more. Even some of the 20 horses that actully do make it to the starting gate don't deserve to be there. It's not your right for your horse to be in the Derby, it's an honor. And if he can't earn enough points, then clearly he is not ready, or not good enough. The whole point of this system is to reward Grade 1 placed horses, and Grade 2 and 3 winners. Yes can be tweaked, but trainers should stop worrying about it, and just do what they can to get their horse ready for the entire racing season.
Cause for Concern. I see this happened as you state in 2002. The Wimbleton incident was in 2004 which prevented Rock Hard Ten from getting in the gate. And St. Averill was also scratched (not trained by Baffert) and he prevented Eddington from getting into the gate. So Baffert has scratched at the last moment on at least two occasions. Also as another poster had Pletcher and Repole did the same thing.
A lot of good points made by all, in a civil discussion of the matter at hand, from many points of view, "likes" for all, including the article.
Sorry, it was 2002. Ironically, Baffert won with War Emblem, a colt that he recently had inherited.
Buckpasser, thanks for the feedback. When you mentioned Wimbledon, that didn't seem to ring a bell. So I did some backtracking research, and the Baffert colt in question was Danthebluegrassman in 2003. His entry eliminated Winter Passage and/or Sunday Break. Here's the article I tripped on to find this info: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/inside_game/tim_layden/news/2002/05/02/layden_viewpoint/
Thanks for the vote Mary. I think a National Commissioner is a good idea until you look at who it could be and that becomes a problem. Having someone who has no connection with LASIx is a good idea, but too many in racing have a connection to it.
I think a commissioner would need to be someone with NO vested interest in the use of Salix.
How about you, Buckpasser?
If the KD were not the race everyone wants to win, CDI would not have the control over how a horse gets into the gate at Churchill Downs

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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 2001. After 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 the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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