Road to the 2024 Kentucky Derby Prep Races 

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Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Track horses targeting the Kentucky Derby on the official Road to the Kentucky Derby awarding points to the top five finishers in each designated race.

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Last updated: May 4, 2024 at 8:00 p.m. EDT

2024 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 10-5-3-2-1 points to the first five finishers respectively. Churchill Downs awards 20-10-6-4-2 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, Sunland Park Derby, and the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. Lastly, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile awards 30-15-9-6-3 points to the top five horses.
  • The next series is the Kentucky Derby Championship Series which offers 15 races total. Six of these races deliver a 50-25-15-10-5 point split. The final prep races double the reward with an offering of 100-50-25-15-10. The exception is the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland with a split of 20-10-6-4-2.
    • 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 (10-5-3-2-1 points), Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun (20-10-6-4-2), the Hyacinth (30-15-9-6-3) and the Fukuryu (40-20-12-8-4). The horse with the most points is granted automatic entry into the Kentucky Derby.
  • The introduction of the Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2017 features seven races in Ireland, Great Britain and France. Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races include points splits of 10-5-3-2-1, 20-10-6-4-2 and 30-15-9-6-3.

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2023-24 USA Road to the Kentucky Derby Schedule (37 races)

Kentucky Derby Prep Season (21 races)

DateRaceRacetrack Points
Sep 16, 2023
Churchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Oct 7, 2023
10-5-3-2-1
Oct 7, 2023
Keeneland | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Oct 7, 2023
Santa Anita | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Oct 29, 2023
Street Sense
Churchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Nov 3, 2023
Santa Anita | 1 1/16 Miles
30-15-9-6-3
Nov 25, 2023
Churchill Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Dec 2, 2023
Aqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Dec 15, 2023
Remington Park | 1 Mile
10-5-3-2-1
Dec 16, 2023
Los Alamitos | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Dec 23, 2023
Fair Grounds | 1 1/16 Miles
10-5-3-2-1
Jan 1, 2024
Oaklawn Park | 1 Mile
10-5-3-2-1
Jan 6, 2024
Aqueduct | 1 Mile
10-5-3-2-1
Jan 20, 2024
Fair Grounds | 1 1/16 Miles
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 3, 2024
Oaklawn Park | 1 1/16 Miles
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 3, 2024
Gulfstream Park | 1 1/16 Miles
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 3, 2024
Santa Anita | 1 Mile
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 3, 2024
Aqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 10, 2024
Tampa Bay Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 18, 2024
Sunland Park | 1 1/8 Miles
20-10-6-4-2
Mar 2, 2024
Turfway Park | 1 1/16 Miles (AW)
20-10-6-4-2

Kentucky Derby Championship Series (15 races)

DateRaceRacetrack | DistancePoints
Feb 17, 2024
Fair Grounds | 1 1/8 Miles
50-25-15-10-5
Feb 24, 2024
Oaklawn Park | 1 1/16 Miles
50-25-15-10-5
Mar 2, 2024
Aqueduct | 1 Mile
50-25-15-10-5
Mar 2, 2024
Gulfstream Park | 1 1/16 Miles
50-25-15-10-5
Mar 3, 2024
Santa Anita | 1 1/16 Miles
50-25-15-10-5
Mar 9, 2024
Tampa Bay Downs | 1 1/16 Miles
50-25-15-10-5
Mar 23, 2024
Turfway Park | 1 1/8 Miles (AW)
100-50-25-15-10
Mar 23, 2024
Fair Grounds | 1 3/16 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Mar 30, 2024
Meydan Racecourse | 1 3/16 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Mar 30, 2024
Gulfstream Park | 1 1/8 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Mar 30, 2024
Oaklawn Park | 1 1/8 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Apr 6, 2024
Aqueduct | 1 1/8 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Apr 6, 2024
Keeneland | 1 1/8 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Apr 6, 2024
Santa Anita | 1 1/8 Miles
100-50-25-15-10
Apr 13, 2024
Keeneland | 1 1/16 Miles
20-10-6-4-2

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

DateRaceRacetrack | DistancePoints
Nov 25, 2023
Tokyo Racecourse (JRA) | 1 Mile
10-5-3-2-1
Dec 13, 2023
Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun
Kawasaki Racecourse (NAR) | 1 Mile
20-10-6-4-2
Feb 18, 2024
Tokyo Racecourse (JRA)| 1 Mile
30-15-9-6-3
Mar 23, 2024
Nakayama (JRA) | 1 1/8 Miles
40-20-12-8-4

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

DateRaceRacetrack1st
Sep 23, 2023
Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford
Curragh (IRE) | 1 Mile (T)
10-5-3-2-1
Sep 30, 2023
Juddmonte Royal Lodge
Newmarket (GB) | 1 Mile (T)
10-5-3-2-1
Oct 1, 2023
Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère
Longchamp (FR) | 7 F (T)
10-5-3-2-1
Oct 28, 2023
Kameko Futurity Trophy
Doncaster (GB) | 1 Mile (T)
10-5-3-2-1
Feb 21, 2024
European Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition Stakes
Kempton Park (GB) | 1 Mile (AW)
20-10-6-4-2
Mar 1, 2024
Patton Stakes
Dundalk (IRE) | 1 Mile (AW)
20-10-6-4-2
Apr 6, 2024
Cardinal Stakes
Chelmsford City (GB) | 1 Mile (AW)
30-15-9-6-3

(T) = Turf
(AW) = Synthetic

Note: Schedule dates subject to change.