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The Kentucky Derby Post

Let the Scoring Begin - Kentucky Derby 2014


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.


Before 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.


Last 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.


Then, 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.


As 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 2014 series.


Along 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.


The 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.


The 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.


Or 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.


If 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.


Secondly, 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.


And now it’s on to my cons.


Leading the way in almost everybody’s book are two races; Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Illinois Derby. Oh boy, where to begin.


There’s 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.


Secondly, 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 dysfunctional equation.


Instead, 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 somewhere.


In 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.  


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Older Comments about Let the Scoring Begin - Kentucky Derby 2014...

The Illinois Derby definitely deserves at least 50 points to the winner. CDI is totally screwing over Hawthorne!
Perhaps limiting to 18, rather than something drastic like 14 would be better. Either way, a year of data is not enough to base a change off of
Good point Andy on the BC Juv. Based on how many points it takes to get in, i think a 25 points to the winner would be fair and almost guarantee a spot in the KyDerby. After or before that all you would need is a 10 point win or 4 point 2nd place finish in the Derby Prep series or 2nd, 3rd or 4th place in the championship series
Unfortunately, Matt, I think limiting the number of starters would be an even more unpopular decision than the one that excluded the Illinois Derby from the points system.
The Derby field size of 20 minimizes the importance of the Point System as we saw last year. After all the races and points it only took about 30 points to get in? Make the field smaller and then things will get interesting.
After watching the Del Mar Futurity last night, Strong Mandate remains the top 2yo colt I've seen yet this year. Looking forward to the Iroquois!
I believe that The BC Juvenile should be 100 points to the winner. It is the biggest race for 2YOs and at an appropriate distance. Is it not 10 times more important than the Iroquois?? Of course it is. Isn't the field of the BC Juv 10 times better than the Iroquois?? Of course it is. How many Iroquois horses will run in the Derby?

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park, Henderson, KY. 


In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 



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