Road to the Kentucky Derby Prep Races

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Last updated: Nov. 28th, 2022

2022 Kentucky Derby Prep Races

How to Qualify for Kentucky Derby Points

The traditional qualifying factor for horses participating in the Kentucky Derby was total graded stakes purse earnings. Churchill Downs refined the classic earnings method in favor of a points based system on the traditional prep races.

When and Why points?

Beginning in 2013, the Kentucky Derby prep races were officially bundled under the banner of The Road to the Kentucky Derby. Known fondly as the “Derby Trail,” the introduction of the prep series has led to a much easier guideline for both horsemen and horse racing fans. The Derby Trail also allows for more focused promotion of hopefuls targeting the Triple Crown.

There are four groupings that make up the Kentucky Derby prep races.
  • The first is the Kentucky Derby Prep Season with 21 races.
    • Beginning with the Iroquois Stakes in mid-September and running through the John Battaglia Memorial in early March, most of the initial prep events award 10-4-3-2-1 points to the first five finishers respectively. Starting in 2022, Churchill Downs will start awarding 20-8-6-4-2 points to the top five finishers at select prep races, including the Lecomte Stakes, Southwest Stakes, Withers Stakes, Holy Bull Stakes, Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Sam F. Davis Stakes and the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. Lastly, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile awards 30-12-9-6-3 points to the top five horses.
  • The next series is the Kentucky Derby Championship Series which offers 16 races total. Seven of these races deliver a 50-20-15-10-5 point split. The final prep races double the reward with an offering of 100-40-30-20-10. The exception is the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland with a split of 20-8-6-4-2.
    • The races of highest value include the UAE Derby at Meydan in Dubai, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park; Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds; Wood Memorial at Aqueduct; Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park; Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park; the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, and the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park.
    • This race series design places a significant value on the most important prep races of the Kentucky Derby overall, as the Fastest Two Minutes In Sports inches closer. The cornerstone prep races attract significant handle as bettors sort out Kentucky Derby contenders and the points system enables the casual fan to understand how horses come to be eligible to participate as opposed to the former graded earnings system.
    • Kentucky Derby winners tend to excel in the “Championship Series” where races are worth the most points, but one notable exception is the 2009 Derby winner and 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird, who was able to qualify for the Kentucky Derby based largely upon graded earnings accrued earlier in his career.
  • Beginning in 2017, the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby was introduced. This two-race series has expanded to three races for 2018 and further to four races in 2019 and consists of the Cattleya Sho (10-4-3-2-1 points), Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (20-8-6-4-2), the Hyacinth (30-12-9-6-3) and the Fukuryu (40-16-12-8-4). The horse with the most points is granted automatic entry into the Kentucky Derby.
  • The newest addition was the introduction of the Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2017 that featured seven races in Ireland, Great Britain and France. Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races include points splits of 10-4-3-2-1, 20-8-6-4-2 and 30-12-9-6-3.

2022-23 USA ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY SCHEDULE (37 races)

Kentucky Derby Prep Season (21 races)

DateRaceRacetrack | DistancePoints
Sep 17, 2022IroquoisChurchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles10-4-3-2-1
Oct 1, 2022ChampagneAqueduct | 1 Mile 10-4-3-2-1
Oct 8, 2022Breeders’ FuturityKeeneland | 1 1/16 Miles10-4-3-2-1
Oct 8, 2022American PharoahSanta Anita | 1 1/16 Miles10-4-3-2-1
Nov 4, 2022Breeders’ Cup JuvenileKeeneland | 1 1/16 Miles30-12-9-6-3
Nov 26, 2022Kentucky Jockey ClubChurchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles10-4-3-2-1
Dec 3, 2022RemsenAqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles10-4-3-2-1
Dec 10, 2022Los Alamitos FuturityLos Alamitos | 1 1/16 Miles 10-4-3-2-1
Dec 17, 2022Springboard MileRemington Park | 1 Mile10-4-3-2-1
Dec 26, 2022Gun RunnerFair Grounds | 1 1/16 Miles10-4-3-2-1
Jan 1, 2023Smarty JonesOaklawn Park | 1 Mile10-4-3-2-1
Jan 1, 2023JeromeAqueduct | 1 Mile10-4-3-2-1
Jan 8, 2023Sham StakesSanta Anita | 1 Mile10-4-3-2-1
Jan 21, 2023LecomteFair Grounds | 1 1/16 Miles20-8-6-4-2
Jan 28, 2023SouthwestOaklawn Park | 1 1/16 Miles20-8-6-4-2
Feb 4, 2023Holy BullGulfstream Park | 1 1/16 Miles20-8-6-4-2
Feb 4, 2023WithersAqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles20-8-6-4-2
Feb 4, 2023Robert B. LewisSanta Anita | 1 1/16 Miles20-8-6-4-2
Feb 11, 2023Sam F. DavisTampa Bay Downs | 1 1/16 Miles20-8-6-4-2
Feb 11, 2023El Camino Real DerbyGolden Gate Fields | 1 1/8 Miles (AW)10-4-3-2-1
Feb 25, 2023John Battaglia MemorialTurfway Park | 1 1/16 Miles (AW)20-8-6-4-2

Kentucky Derby Championship Series (16 races)

DateRaceRacetrack | DistancePoints
Feb 18, 2023Risen StarFair Grounds | 1 1/8 Miles50-20-15-10-5
Feb 25, 2023Rebel StakesOaklawn Park | 1 1/16 Miles50-20-15-10-5
Mar 4, 2023Fountain of YouthGulfstream Park | 1 1/16 Miles50-20-15-10-5
Mar 4, 2023GothamAqueduct | 1 Mile50-20-15-10-5
Mar 4, 2023San FelipeSanta Anita | 1 1/16 Miles50-20-15-10-5
Mar 11, 2023Tampa Bay DerbyTampa Bay Downs | 1 1/16 Miles50-20-15-10-5
Mar 25, 2023UAE DerbyMeydan Racecourse | 1 3/16 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Mar 25, 2023Louisiana DerbyFair Grounds | 1 3/16 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Mar 25, 2023Jeff Ruby SteaksTurfway Park | 1 1/8 Miles (AW) 100-40-30-20-10
Mar 26, 2023Sunland DerbySunland Park | 1 1/8 Miles50-20-15-10-5
Apr 1, 2023Arkansas DerbyOaklawn Park | 1 1/8 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Apr 1, 2023Florida DerbyGulfstream Park | 1 1/8 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Apr 8, 2023Wood MemorialAqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Apr 8, 2023Blue GrassKeeneland | 1 1/8 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Apr 8, 2023Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita | 1 1/8 Miles100-40-30-20-10
Apr 15, 2023Lexington StakesKeeneland | 1 1/16 Miles20-8-6-4-2

2022-23 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Schedule (4 races)

Date RaceRacetrack | DistancePoints
Nov 26, 2022Cattleya StakesTokyo Racecourse (JRA) | 1 Mile 10-4-3-2-1
Dec 14, 2022Zen-Nippon Nisai YushunKawasaki Racecourse (NAR) | 1 Mile 20-8-6-4-2
Feb 19, 2023HyacinthTokyo Racecourse (JRA)| 1 Mile 30-12-9-6-3
Mar 25, 2023Fukuryu StakesNakayama (JRA) | 1 1/8 Miles 40-16-12-8-4

2022-23 EUROPE ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY SCHEDULE (7 races)

Date RaceRacetrack 1st
Sep 24, 2022Juddmonte Royal LodgeNewmarket (GB) | 1 Mile (T)10-4-3-2-1
Sep 24, 2022Alan Smurfit Memorial BeresfordCurragh (IRE) | 1 Mile (T)10-4-3-2-1
Oct 2, 2022Qatar Prix Jean-Luc LagardèreLongchamp (FR) | 7 F (T)10-4-3-2-1
Oct 22, 2022Vertem Futurity TrophyDoncaster (GB) | 1 Mile (T)10-4-3-2-1
Mar 1, 2023Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition StakesKempton Park (GB) | 1 Mile (AW)20-8-6-4-2
Mar 3, 2023Patton StakesDundalk (IRE) | 1 Mile (AW)20-8-6-4-2
Mar 30, 2023Cardinal Condition StakesChelmsford City (GB) | 1 Mile (AW)30-12-9-6-3

(T) = Turf
(AW) = Synthetic

Note: Schedule dates subject to change.