Road to the Kentucky Derby Qualifying Series
The premise is simple. There’s qualifying races that start as early as September of a horse’s two year-old campaign. These races continue in the winter and spring leading up to the Kentucky Derby and each of them carry different point values awarded to the top four finishers. Earn enough points to be among the top 20 three year-olds and you’ve secured a place in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
Here’s a look at the most prestigious Kentucky Derby qualifying races of the 46 opportunities to be considered for the 2019 race. These events award 100-40-20-10 points to the 1st-4th-place finishers, essentially making them “win-and-you’re-in events:
- The Santa Anita Derby (April 6)
- The Arkansas Derby (April 13)
- The Wood Memorial (April 6)
- The Bluegrass Stakes (April 6)
- The Florida Derby (March 30)
- The UAE Derby (March 30)
- The Louisiana Derby (March 23)
Since 2012, the winner of the Kentucky Derby won either the Santa Anita Derby or Florida Derby. Since the advent of the points qualifying system established in 2012, it’s become increasingly difficult to win the race as a long shot. In fact, the favorited has won each of those years except for I’ll Have Another in 2012.
The march of favorites can likely be attributed to the qualifying system’s efficiency in weeding out the cast of sprinters who always seemed to make the race and muddle up the pace prior to 2012. Longshot Derby winners such as Giacomo (2005) and Mine that Bird (2008) owed at least a little of their good fortune to exceedingly fast paces set by horses with little chance of winning.
For bettors following the Kentucky Derby Qualifying Series, the goal is surely to identify the horse or horses you want to make future bets on before the “biggies.” This, of course, ensures greater odds and bigger payouts. Being able to sniff out relative unknown Derby hopefuls well before the rest of the wagering public does is the source of many spirited debates and bragging rights among horse players.
From September 15, 2018 to February 18, 2019,there will be 19 prep races that carry KY Derby qualifying points. All of these races award 10-4-2-1 to the 1st-4th finishers and consist of such notable events as the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, LeComte Stakes, Holy Bull and Southwest Stakes just to name a few. Winning these races, while extremely important, is far from the ultimate prize.
The championship series has two legs. The second leg has already been mentioned under “biggies,” but the first leg consists of 7 races each of which are worth 50-20-10-5 to the 1st-4th finishers. These races include:
- The Risen Star (Feb 16)
- The Fountain of Youth (March 2)
- The Tampa Bay Derby (March 9)
- The Gotham Stakes (March 9)
- The San Felipe Stakes (March 9)
- The Rebel Stakes (March 16)
- The Sunland Derby (March 24)
See below the top sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you:
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