2024 Kentucky Derby Prep Races Schedule

March 5th, 2024

The Kentucky Derby prep races offer points for entry

The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a captivating journey that intersects equine athleticism, statistical analysis, and historical continuity. This road comprises a sequence of races with points as a currency of distinction. The Top 5 finishers in each race accumulate points toward a chance to compete on the first Saturday in May. Throughout the season, racing performances are scrutinized, dissected, and quantified through handicapping analysis, a process that mirrors the scientific method.

But what of the top 20 point earners? These statistical outliers, akin to significant results in an experiment, secure coveted positions in the starting gate. Their trajectories—shaped by speed, stamina, and tactical finesse—become part of the Derby’s grand narrative.

Beyond the rolling hills of Kentucky, the European Road to the Kentucky Derby beckons. Like a cross-continental collaboration in scientific research, it extends an invitation—one that transcends borders and enriches the Derby’s pool of potential victors. The finest steeds from distant lands converge, their pedigrees interwoven with their American brethren like strands of DNA.

And across the Pacific, the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby unfurls. Here, the principles of equine genetics and selective breeding intersect on another premier stage. The top point earners from Japan—a nation with its own storied racing heritage—earn their chance at Derby glory. It’s a transpacific dialogue, where data flows like currents across the ocean.

Since 1975, the Derby field has adhered to a strict limit: 20 starters. This constraint, akin to experimental parameters, shapes the race's dynamics. In 22 of the last 25 years, the field has swelled to this maximum—a statistical anomaly that defies assumptions.

So, fellow scientists and aficionados, let us raise our beakers (or mint juleps) to this empirical odyssey. For the Road to the Kentucky Derby, like a well-designed experiment, yields insights, challenges assumptions, and perpetuates the legacy of equine inquiry.

How might Kentucky native Jesse Stuart describe the Road to the Kentucky Derby?

In the rolling hills of Kentucky, where the earth yields its secrets to the plow and the sun dances upon the fields like a golden fiddler, there exists a path—a winding, dust-kissed road that leads to the heart of horse country and Thoroughbred racing. This road, my friends, is no ordinary thoroughfare; it is the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

And so, let us traverse this road, our hooves echoing against the limestone cliffs, our eyes fixed on the distant spires of Churchill Downs. Here, the Thoroughbreds gallop, their sinewy muscles taut as fiddle strings, their breaths a symphony of anticipation. They race not merely for glory but for the very essence of their being—the pulse of the Bluegrass, the rhythm of generations.

The points system, like the seasons, weaves its tapestry. Stakes races unfold—a ballet of speed and stamina. Each stride, they inch closer to that hallowed gate, where roses bloom and dreams ignite.

And oh, the Kentucky Oaks, a sister race, where fillies dance like dandelions in a sun-kissed meadow. Their manes, like spun gold, catch the breeze as they chase the wind, their hearts aflame with the promise of spring lilies.

In the shadow of Jesse Stuart’s memory, we raise our mint juleps and cheer. For this road, my friends, is more than dirt and gravel; it is a pilgrimage—a hymn sung by the wind, a tale etched upon the rolling hills. And as the sun dips low, casting long shadows across the track, we know that here, in this sacred soil, legends are born, and the echoes of hooves reverberate through time. 🌿🐎🌹


Refer to the Kentucky Derby prep-race calendar below. Learn more about the point system and point values of Derby prep-races here.

Kentucky Derby Prep Season (21 races)

DateRaceRacetrack and Distance
Sep 16, 2023IroquoisChurchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
Oct 7, 2023ChampagneBelmont at the Big A | 1 Mile
Oct 7, 2023Breeders’ FuturityKeeneland | 1 1/16 Miles
Oct 7, 2023American PharoahSanta Anita | 1 1/16 Miles
Oct 29, 2023Street SenseChurchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
Nov 3, 2023Breeders’ Cup JuvenileSanta Anita | 1 1/16 Miles
Nov 25, 2023Kentucky Jockey ClubChurchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
Dec 2, 2023RemsenAqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles
Dec 15, 2023Springboard MileRemington Park | 1 Mile
Dec 16, 2023Los Alamitos FuturityLos Alamitos | 1 1/16 Miles
Dec 23, 2023Gun RunnerFair Grounds | 1 1/16 Miles
Jan 1, 2024Smarty JonesOaklawn Park | 1 Mile
Jan 6, 2024JeromeAqueduct | 1 Mile
Jan 20, 2024LecomteFair Grounds | 1 1/16 Miles
Feb 3, 2024SouthwestOaklawn Park | 1 1/16 Miles
Feb 3, 2024Holy BullGulfstream Park | 1 1/16 Miles
Feb 3, 2024Robert B. LewisSanta Anita | 1 Mile
Feb 3, 2024WithersAqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles
Feb 10, 2024Sam F. DavisTampa Bay Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
Feb 18, 2024Sunland DerbySunland Park | 1 1/8 Miles
Mar 2, 2024John Battaglia MemorialTurfway Park | 1 1/16 Miles (AW)

Kentucky Derby Championship Series (15 races)

DateRaceRacetrack and Distance
Feb 17, 2024Risen StarFair Grounds | 1 1/8 Miles
Feb 24, 2024Rebel StakesOaklawn Park | 1 1/16 Miles
Mar 2, 2024GothamAqueduct | 1 Mile
Mar 2, 2024Fountain of YouthGulfstream Park | 1 1/16 Miles
Mar 3, 2024San FelipeSanta Anita | 1 1/16 Miles
Mar 9, 2024Tampa Bay DerbyTampa Bay Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
Mar 23, 2024Jeff Ruby SteaksTurfway Park | 1 1/8 Miles (AW)
Mar 23, 2024Louisiana DerbyFair Grounds | 1 3/16 Miles
Mar 30, 2024UAE DerbyMeydan Racecourse | 1 3/16 Miles
Mar 30, 2024Florida DerbyGulfstream Park | 1 1/8 Miles
Mar 30, 2024Arkansas DerbyOaklawn Park | 1 1/8 Miles
Apr 6, 2024Wood MemorialAqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles
Apr 6, 2024Blue GrassKeeneland | 1 1/8 Miles
Apr 6, 2024Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita | 1 1/8 Miles
Apr 13, 2024Lexington StakesKeeneland | 1 1/16 Miles

2023-24 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Schedule (4 races)

DateRaceRacetrack and Distance
Nov 25, 2023Cattleya StakesTokyo Racecourse (JRA) | 1 Mile
Dec 13, 2023Zen-Nippon Nisai YushunKawasaki Racecourse (NAR) | 1 Mile
Feb 18, 2024HyacinthTokyo Racecourse (JRA)| 1 Mile
Mar 23, 2024Fukuryu StakesNakayama (JRA) | 1 1/8 Miles

2023-24 Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby Schedule (7 races)

DateRaceRacetrack and Distance
Sep 23, 2023Alan Smurfit Memorial BeresfordCurragh (IRE) | 1 Mile (T)
Sep 30, 2023Juddmonte Royal LodgeNewmarket (GB) | 1 Mile (T)
Oct 1, 2023Qatar Prix Jean-Luc LagardèreLongchamp (FR) | 7 F (T)
Oct 28, 2023Kameko Futurity TrophyDoncaster (GB) | 1 Mile (T)
Feb 21, 2024European Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition StakesKempton Park (GB) | 1 Mile (AW)
Mar 1, 2024Patton StakesDundalk (IRE) | 1 Mile (AW)
Apr 6, 2024Cardinal StakesChelmsford City (GB) | 1 Mile (AW)

(T) = Turf
(AW) = Synthetic

Note: Schedule dates subject to change.