LOUISVILLE Ky. (WHAS11) -- In a move to attract racing fans and control the destiny of its premiere property, Churchill Downs announced a new NASCAR style system Thursday to determine which 20 horses qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
"Our goal is to create a compelling story for the race fan to follow that all culminates on the first Saturday in May," said Kevin Flanery, Churchill Downs President.
Rather than base the Derby field on the current system ranking each horse's eligibility according to total earnings from about 185 races, points will be awarded in 36 stakes races of Churchill's choosing.
"It will definitely alienate current fans in my opinion," said Genie Fortunato after the plan was announced at the Churchill Downs, Inc shareholders' meeting. "I also - with it being this complicated - I don't know if it's going to attract that many new fans"
Churchill Downs officials said which stakes races carry Derby points will be reviewed each year with changes announced each July. The races chosen for the 2013 Derby's selection process are at least a one-mile distance, re-enforcing the racetrack's goal to fill the Derby field with runners capable of competing at the Derby's distance of 1 ¼ miles.
“If someone comes to us with an idea that we think is innovative and makes the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ better, we’ll certainly be open to it,” Flanery said. "At this point and time, what we’ve assumed here is that the racetracks will run the same races under the same conditions around the same dates as last year. If not, we’ll have to adjust the schedule.”
"I think the points system is really, it will get the good horses in the Derby and the fans see the best horses in the race at the same time," said Frankie Robinson, another Churchill Downs, Inc shareholder.
CDI Chairman & CEO Bob Evans dismissed the question whether the change is "messing with tradition."
"I don't think so," Evans said. "If you look at all the races that are part of the new road to the Derby, they're all races that exist today, so it's a smaller list, but they've all been around for many, many years."
The change is also a quality control issue.
With total earnings the current determining factor, Churchill became concerned that casino fed purses in other states would hijack the road to the Derby
"Someone else is controlling what the path to the Kentucky Derby is," Flanery said. "Churchill Downs, we're the ones who are.. and the city of Louisville, we are the ones who are the stewards of the Derby. And so as we looked at all the changes that are happening and how horses are qualifying, you sort of have that 'aha' moment where you say, 'Guess what? We should be making sure that we have the proper path to the Derby, that we're getting the best horses and we're giving everybody a chance to compete, a fair chance to compete at their zenith on the first Saturday in May.'"
If the points system had been in place in 2009, Mine That Bird wouldn't have won the Derby because the longshot wouldn't have even been eligible to race in the Derby.
"You're still going to have those horses and those trainers and those owners who are strategizing," Flanery said. "And that will be a lot of fun, they are strategizing, 'How do I get in there, because I think I've got the longshot on that day."
The Kentucky Oaks fillies classic will have a separate but similar point system, yet zero Derby points will be awarded to races with fillies only.
|Royal Lodge||1 M (T)||Newmarket||England||10||4||2||1|
|Norfolk||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Breeders’ Futurity||1 1/16 M (S)||Keeneland||Kentucky||10||4||2||1|
|Champagne||1 M||Belmont||New York||10||4||2||1|
|Grey||1 1/16 M (S)||Woodbine||Canada||10||4||2||1|
|Breeders’ Cup Juvenile||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Delta Downs Jackpot||1 1/16 M||Delta Downs||Louisiana||10||4||2||1|
|Remsen||1 1/8 M||Aqueduct||New York||10||4||2||1|
|Kentucky Jockey Club||1 1/16 M||Churchill Downs||Kentucky||10||4||2||1|
|CashCall Futurity||1 1/16 M (S)||Hollywood Park||California||10||4||2||1|
|Sham||1 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Smarty Jones||1 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||10||4||2||1|
|Lecomte||1 M 70 Y||Fair Grounds||Louisiana||10||4||2||1|
|Holy Bull||1 M||Gulfstream Park||Florida||10||4||2||1|
|Robert B. Lewis||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Sam F. Davis||1 1/16 M||Tampa Bay Downs||Florida||10||4||2||1|
|Withers||1 1/16 M||Aqueduct||New York||10||4||2||1|
|El Camino Real Derby||1 1/8 M (S)||Golden Gate||California||10||4||2||1|
|Southwest||1 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||10||4||2||1|
|First Leg of Series|
|Risen Star||1 1/16 M||Fair Grounds||Louisiana||50||20||10||5|
|Fountain of Youth||1 1/16 M||Gulfstream Park||Florida||50||20||10||5|
|Gotham||1 1/16 M||Aqueduct||New York||50||20||10||5|
|Tampa Bay Derby||1 1/16 M||Tampa Bay Downs||Florida||50||20||10||5|
|San Felipe||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||50||20||10||5|
|Rebel||1 1/16 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||50||20||10||5|
|Spiral||1 1/8 M (S)||Turfway Park||Kentucky||50||20||10||5|
|Sunland Derby||1 1/8 M||Sunland Park||New Mexico||50||20||10||5|
|Second Leg of Series|
|Florida Derby||1 1/8 M||Gulfstream Park||Florida||100||40||20||10|
|UAE Derby||1 3/16 M (S)||Meydan Racecourse||Dubai||100||40||20||10|
|Louisiana Derby||1 1/8 M||Fair Grounds||Louisiana||100||40||20||10|
|Wood Memorial||1 1/8 M||Aqueduct||New York||100||40||20||10|
|Santa Anita Derby||1 1/8 M||Santa Anita||California||100||40||20||10|
|Arkansas Derby||1 1/8 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||100||40||20||10|
|Blue Grass||1 1/8 M (S)||Keeneland||Kentucky||100||40||20||10|
|Lexington||1 1/16 M (S)||Keeneland||Kentucky||20||8||4||2|
|The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial||1 M||Churchill Downs||Kentucky||20||8||4||2|
|Fillies’ Mile||1 M (T)||Newmarket||England||10||4||2||1|
|Oak Leaf||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Alcibiades||1 1/16 M (S)||Keeneland||Kentucky||10||4||2||1|
|Frizette||1 M||Belmont||New York||10||4||2||1|
|Mazarine||1 1/16 M (S)||Woodbine||Canada||10||4||2||1|
|Pocahontas||1 M||Churchill Downs||Kentucky||10||4||2||1|
|Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Delta Downs Princess||1 M||Delta Downs||Louisiana||10||4||2||1|
|Demoiselle||1 1/8 M||Aqueduct||New York||10||4||2||1|
|Golden Rod||1 1/16 M||Churchill Downs||Kentucky||10||4||2||1|
|Hollywood Starlet||1 1/16 M (S)||Hollywood Park||California||10||4||2||1|
|Old Hat||6 F||Gulfstream Park||Florida||10||4||2||1|
|Busanda||1 M||Aqueduct||New York||10||4||2||1|
|Santa Ynez||6 ½ F||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Silverbulletday||1 M 70 Y||Fair Grounds||Louisiana||10||4||2||1|
|California Oaks||1 1/16 M (S)||Golden Gate||California||10||4||2||1|
|Santa Ysabel||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||10||4||2||1|
|Forward Gal||7 F||Gulfstream Park||Florida||10||4||2||1|
|UAE 1000 Guineas||1 M (S)||Meydan Race Course||Dubai||10||4||2||1|
|Martha Washington||1 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||10||4||2||1|
|First Leg of Series|
|UAE Oaks||1 3/16 M (S)||Meydan Racecourse||Dubai||50||20||10||5|
|Davona Dale||1 1/16 M||Gulfstream Park||Florida||50||20||10||5|
|Rachel Alexandra||1 1/16 M||Fair Grounds||Louisiana||50||20||10||5|
|Las Virgenes||1 M||Santa Anita||California||50||20||10||5|
|Honeybee||1 1/16 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||50||20||10||5|
|Cicada||6 F||Aqueduct||New York||50||20||10||5|
|Bourbonette Oaks||1 M (S)||Turfway Park||Kentucky||50||20||10||5|
|Sunland Park Oaks||1 1/16 M||Sunland Park||New Mexico||50||20||10||5|
|Second Leg of Series|
|Fair Grounds Oaks||1 1/16 M||Fair Grounds||Louisiana||100||40||20||10|
|Gulfstream Oaks||1 1/8 M||Gulfstream Park||Florida||100||40||20||10|
|Santa Anita Oaks||1 1/16 M||Santa Anita||California||100||40||20||10|
|Ashland||1 1/16 M (S)||Keeneland||Kentucky||100||40||20||10|
|Comely||1 M||Aqueduct||New York||100||40||20||10|
|Fantasy||1 1/16 M||Oaklawn Park||Arkansas||100||40||20||10|
|Beaumont||7 F (S)||Keeneland||Kentucky||20||8||4||2|