Long Road to the 2024 Kentucky Derby Adds a Few Tweaks

The long road to the 2024 Kentucky Derby (G1) opens with the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs on Sept. 16 — the first of 37 qualifying races that will determine the field for the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May.

Churchill Downs made a few tweaks to the schedule by increasing the number of points earned for second-place finishers to create separation between runners-up and third-place finishers. Third- and fourth-place points in races that award 100 points to the winner have been decreased.

Midnight Bourbon at Churchill Downs – Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography

The maximum Derby field is 20 horses. The top 20 horses with the most points have first priority in the field. With separate European and Japan roads to the Derby, Churchill Downs will issue one invitation to the top point-earner in each series.

There are two sections in the U.S. series. The first runs Sept. 16-March 2, 2024, and includes 21 races – 13 with a points scale of 10-5-3-2-1, seven with a scale of 20-10-6-4-2, and one (the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile) with a scale of 30-15-9-6-3.

The second section, the championship series, features 16 races with a huge increase in qualifying points. The series opens with the Risen Star (G2) at the Fair Grounds, which awards 50-25-15-10-5 points to the first five finishers.

Two others, the Sunland Derby (G3) on Feb. 18 and the Lexington (G3) on April 13, offer qualifying points of 20-10-6-4-2.

The biggest points races and a cinch automatic Derby berth to the winner are packed between March 23-April 6. The points breakdown is 100-50-25-15-10 for the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), Louisiana Derby (G2), UAE Derby (G2), Florida Derby (G1), Arkansas Derby (G1), Wood Memorial (G2), Blue Grass (G1), and Santa Anita Derby (G1).

In addition, there’s a European road to the Derby with seven point- qualifiers from Sept. 23-March 30; and a Japan road to the Derby with four races from Nov. 25-March 23.

Other changes:

The Street Sense (G3) on Oct. 29 has been added to the early prep season.

The Sunland Derby decreases in value to 20-10-6-4-2 from 50-20-15-10-5.


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