Remaining Kentucky Derby preps make for a unique road

Remaining Kentucky Derby preps make for a unique road
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The 2020 Kentucky Derby is 91 days from this Saturday, June 6, on a road to Churchill Downs unlike any other.

With the postponement of the Derby to Sept. 5 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a reshuffling of the prep race schedule has scattered major races across the summer to help set the field of what will be a more mature group of 3-year-olds.

Next up is Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (G1). Normally positioned a month before the Kentucky Derby, its winner will now have three months to navigate a way to Churchill.

We're coming up on the equivalent weekend relative to the big day that Grade 3 races such as the Robert B. Lewis, Withers and Holy Bull normally run.

Essentially, we've turned back the clock to February in terms of preparing horses for the Kentucky Derby.

This season's trail began back on Sept. 14, 2019, when Dennis' Moment prevailed in the Iroquois (G3) under the Twin Spires. That race and preps completed thus far have now become part of an extended series of races including the Belmont Stakes, the Haskell (G1) and other summer 3-year-old staples.

Here's how the new lineup compares to a normal season:

DateRace PointsDays OutEquivalent Traditional Prep Timing 
June 6 Santa Anita Derby 100-40-20-10 91 Feb. 1 Withers/Holy Bull/ Robert B. Lewis 
June 20 Belmont Stakes 150-60-30-15 77Feb. 15 Risen Star/El Camino Real 
June 27 Ohio Derby 20-8-4-2 70Feb. 22 Southwest 
July 4 Los Alamitos Derby 20-8-4-2 63 Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth 
July 8 Indiana Derby 20-8-4-2 59 March 4 Gotham/Tampa Bay Derby/San Felipe 
July 11 Blue Grass 100-40-20-10 56 March 7 Gotham/Tampa Bay Derby/San Felipe 
July 18 Haskell 100-40-20-10 49 March 14 Rebel/Jeff Ruby Steaks 
Aug. 1 Shared Belief 50-20-10-5 35 March 28 Florida Derby 
Aug. 15 Pegasus 20-8-4-2 21 April 11 Arkansas Derby 

The Ellis Park Derby is also on the road to the Derby as a date for its running pends, while summer races at Saratoga such as the Travers (G1) also need to be scheduled on a Kentucky Derby trail unlike any other.

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