Churchill Downs Racetrack is creating a path for horses based in Europe to gain a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

The iconic Louisville track also is expanding its race series for Japanese horses to compete for a slot in the race.

For the new "European Road to the Kentucky Derby," Churchill Downs is working with racing officials in England, France and Ireland. The horse that accrues the most points in a series of seven races in Europe will be awarded a position in the Derby.

And a race has been added to the "Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby," a series that began last year and now has three Japanese races. As with the European competition, one slot in the Derby will be awarded to the horse that accrues the most points in those races.

Both programs are separate from the 36-race "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series in the U.S.

Reporter Marty Finley took an in-depth look at why Churchill is courting the Japanese racing industry in this May 5 cover story.

Churchill Downs Racetrack">Churchill Downs Racetrack is part of Churchill Downs Inc. (Nasdaq: CHDN), which also operates casinos other racetracks and betting facilities and owns Big Fish Games, a Seattle-based mobile and online video game company.

Carolyn Tribble Greer manages digital operations of the news department.