Kentucky Derby
Prep Races

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Road to the 2024 Kentucky Derby: Prep

The spotlight is squarely on May 4th as officials trigger the start of the
race with the iconic bell ring. But the journey to this moment began long before, with competitors
fiercely dueling one another month after month on the Road to the Kentucky Derby path.

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What are the Kentucky Derby Prep Races?

The Kentucky Derby Prep Races are a series of thoroughbred horse racing
events that take place across the United States and beyond. They are collectively known as the ‘Road
to the Kentucky Derby’ —  a pathway that begins in September and extends to the main event — and
operates on a points system where participants accumulate points in an attempt to qualify for a
position at Churchill Downs. 

Road to the Kentucky Derby 2024: Key Facts

  • Dates:
    September 16, 2023, to April 13, 2024

  • Paths: The
    U.S. Main Road, the European Road, and the Japan Road

  • Location:
    Races are held in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Japan

  • Distance:
    Varies from 1 mile to 1 1/8 miles

  • Horse Types:
    Two and three-year-old thoroughbreds eligible

  • Surface:
    Dirt and synthetic tracks.

  • Points System:
    Tiered, ranging from 10-4-2-1 in early races to 100-50-30-20 in
    final preps

  • Popular Races with Horse Racing Fans: The Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, UAE Derby, and Blue Grass

  • Prize Money:
    Ranges significantly, with top races offering over a million
    dollars in purses

History of the Kentucky Prep Races

Before the new points system came into effect in 2012, the Kentucky Derby
field was determined by earnings from all graded stakes races. This approach essentially gave equal
weight to earnings from juvenile races, sprints, and turf competitions alongside traditional Derby
prep races. It often led to a field selection that did not necessarily reflect the performance or
suitability of horses for the Derby’s specific distance and surface conditions.


Kentucky Derby Contenders - BUSR

Kentucky Derby Prep Races Season 2023-2024 

The Kentucky Derby is among the most prestigious events around the world.
Horse racing fans from all over the globe travel to Churchill Downs to witness up close and personal
the finest three-year-old thoroughbreds in the world competing for a $5 million prize purse. At the
gate, 20 positions are up for grabs; 18 from the United States, one reserved for the top finisher in
European events, and another for the leading horse from the Japan series.

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How to Qualify for the Kentucky Derby

The 2024 Road to the Kentucky Derby includes 36 pivotal races divided into
the Prep Season and the Championship Series. Each contest is assigned a specific point value,
deliberately structured to escalate as competitors edge closer to the day of the Derby. 

  • Prep Season:

  • Runs from late September to early March, awarding points on a
    10-5-3-2-1 scale to the top five finishers in each race. The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the
    season’s highlight, offers points at a 30-15-9-6-3 scale and boasts a $2,000,000 prize
    purse. Other notable races like the Robert B. Lewis and Holy Bull provide points at a
    20-10-6-4-2 scale.

  • Championship Series:

  • Divided into two legs plus a ‘wild card’ round. The first features
    minor prep races, usually Grade II, on a 50-25-15-10-5 hierarchy, leading into the second
    leg’s Super Six Prep races: Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby, Louisiana
    Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Wood Memorial Stakes. Each of these can significantly impact
    standings, with 100 points awarded to the winners.

  • Wild Card Races:

  • Positioned towards the Championship Series’ conclusion, these
    races offer a final opportunity to accrue points, typically on a 20-8-4-2 scale. They serve
    as a last-ditch effort for horses on the cusp of qualification and can be crucial for any
    late surges in the leaderboard.

  • Filling the Positions

  • The 18 horses with the highest number of points at the end
    of the Championship Series are eligible to enter the Kentucky Derby. Owners must then
    pay entry ($25,000) and starting ($25,000) fees and declare their intention to run. If
    any of the qualifiers do not enter the race, their spot is offered to the next horse in
    the standings.

  • Tie-Breaking:

  • In the event of a tie in the points, the deadlock is resolved by
    comparing earnings in non-restricted stakes races. The thinking behind it is to try and get
    the most consistently performing horses throughout the season while prioritizing success in
    high-stakes competitions.

  • International Qualifiers:

  • The Kentucky Derby reserves spots for international competitors
    through two separate paths: the “European Road to the Kentucky Derby” and the “Japan Road to
    the Kentucky Derby.” Each of these roads has its own series of races and points system, with
    the top finishers (one European and one Japanese) earning a spot for
    the most exciting two minutes in sports.

What changes have been made to the Road to the Kentucky Derby
format for 2024?

Second-place points increaseIncreased to create added separation from second and third-place finishers.
Third- and fourth-place points adjustment in 100-point racesDecreased from 100-40-30-20-10 to 100-50-25-15-10.
Addition of Grade III Street Sense StakesTo be held on October 29 at Churchill Downs.
Removal of Grade III Sham StakesWas included in the original list but not scheduled by Santa Anita Park in 2024.
Distance decrease for Robert B. Lewis StakesDecreased from 1+1⁄16 miles to one mile.
El Camino Real DerbyHas been removed from the Early Prep Season.
Adjustments to Sunland Park DerbyQualification points decreased from 50-20-15-10-5 to 20-10-6-4-2 and distance decreased
from 1+1⁄8 to 1+1⁄16 miles.

2024 Kentucky Derby Prep Races Schedule and

September 16th initiated the prestigious journey for the first Triple
Crown leg at Churchill Downs. Along the way, Brad Cox’s Timberlake has surged ahead in the points
standings with several overpowering performances and a decisive victory in the Grade 2 Rebel.
Dornoch, under Danny Gargan’s guidance and jockey Luis Saez, emerged as a formidable contender,
grabbing the spoils at the Remsen Stakes and Fountain of Youth. Turning heads as well are horses
like Sierra Leone and Honor Marie, the latter distinguished by Jody Demling’s expert analysis for
its notable track record at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Prep Season
September 16, 2023Iroquois StakesChurchill Downs1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. West Saratoga
2. Risk It
3. Liberal Arts
4. Seize the Grey
October 7, 2023Breeders’ Futurity (GI)Keeneland1 1/16 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Locked
2. The Wine Steward
3. Generous Tipper
4. Northern
5. West Saratoga
October 7, 2023American Pharoah (GI)Santa Anita Park1 1/16 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Muth
2. Wine Me Up
3. Be You
4. Raging Torrent
5. Rothschild
October 7, 2023ChampagneAqueduct1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Timberlake
2. General Partner
3. Dancing Groom
4. Gold Sweep
Air Cav
October 29, 2023Street Sense (GIII)Churchill Downs1 1/16 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Liberal Arts
2. Informed
3. Patriot
4. Gettysburg
5. Northern Flame
November 3, 2023Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI)Santa Anita Park1 1/16 Miles30-15-9-6-31. Fierceness
2. Muth
3. Locked
4. Timberlake
5. Prince of Monaco
November 25, 2023Kentucky Jockey Club (GII)Churchill Downs1 1/16 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Honor Marie
2. Real Men Violin
3. Stretch Ride
4. Risk It
Awesome Road
December 2, 2023RemsenAqueduct1 1/8 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Dornoch
2. Sierra Leone
3. Drum Roll Please 4. Moonlight
5. Where’s
December 15, 2023Springboard MileRemington Park1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Otto the Conqueror
2. Glengarry
3. Magic Grant
4. Third Street
My Buddy Mel
December 16, 2023Los Alamitos Futurity (GII)Los Alamitos1 1/16 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Wynstock
2. Stronghold
3. Coach Prime
4. Wine Me Up
5. Ace of
December 23, 2023Gun RunnerFair Grounds1 1/16 Miles10-5-3-2-11. Track Phantom
2. Snead
3. Nash
4. Footprint
5. Risk It
January 1, 2024Smarty JonesOaklawn Park1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Catching Freedom
2. Just Steel
3. Informed Patriot
4. Gettysburg
5. Mystik Dan
January 6, 2024JeromeAqueduct1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Drum Roll Please
2. El Grande O
3. Khanate
5. Sweet
Soddy J
January 20, 2024Lecomte (GIII)Fair Grounds1 1/16 Miles20-10-6-4-21. Track Phantom
2. Nash
3. Lat Long
4. Ethan Energy
5. Tizzy Indy
February 3, 2024Southwest (GIII)Oaklawn Park1 1/16 Miles20-10-6-4-21. Mystik Dan
2. Just Steel
3. Liberal Arts
4. Awesome Road
Common Defense
February 3, 2024Withers (GIII)Aqueduct1 1/8 miles20-10-6-4-21. Uncle Heavy
2. El Grande O
3. Lightline
4. Deposition
5. Khanate
February 3, 2024Robert B. Lewis (GIII)Santa Anita Park1 Mile20-10-6-4-21. Nysos
2. Wine Me Up
3. Scatify
4. Mc Vay
5. Moonlit Sonata
February 3, 2024Holy Bull (GIII)Gulfstream Park1 1/16 Miles20-10-6-4-21. Hades
2. Domestic Product
3. Fierceness
4. Inveigled
5. Dancing
February 10, 2024Sam F. Davis (GIII)Tampa Bay Downs1 1/16 Miles20-10-6-4-21. No More Time
2. Agate Road
3. West Saratoga
4. Elysian Meadows
March 2, 2024John Battaglia MemorialTurfway Park1 1/16 Miles20-10-6-4-21. Encino
2. Epic Ride
3. Blue Eyed George
4. Mugatu
5. Ode to


Kentucky Derby Championship Series
Feb 17, 2024Risen StarFair Grounds1 1/8 miles50-25-15-10-51. Sierra Leone
2. Track Phantom
3. Catching Freedom
5. Honor Marie
February 18, 2024Sunland Park Derby (GIII)Sunland Park1 1/8 Miles20-10-6-4-21. Stronghold
2. Alotaluck
3. Lucky Jeremy
4. Curlin’s Kaos
Informed Patriot
Feb 24, 2024RebelOaklawn Park1 1/16 miles50-25-15-10-51. Timberlake
2. Common Defense
3. Northern Flame 4. Woodcourt
Mar 2, 2024Fountain of YouthGulfstream Park1 1/16 miles50-25-15-10-51. Dornoch
2. Le Dom Bro
3. Frankie’s Empire
4. Real Macho
Dancing Groom
Mar 2, 2024GothamAqueduct1 mile50-25-15-10-51. Deterministic
2. Just A Touch
3. El Grande O
4. Maximus Meridius

5. Capital Idea
Mar 2, 2024San FelipeSanta Anita1 1/16 miles50-25-15-10-51. Imagination
2. Wine Me Up
3. Mc Vay
4. Scatify
Mar 9, 2024Tampa Bay DerbyTampa Bay Downs1 1/16 Miles50-25-15-10-51. Domestic Product
2. No More Time
3. Grand Mo the First
4. Good Money
Mar 23, 2024Jeff Ruby SteaksTurfway Park1 1/8 Miles (AW)100-50-30-20-101. Endlessly
2. West Saratoga
3. Seize the Grey
4. Triple Espresso
Mar 23, 2024Louisiana DerbyFair Grounds1 3/16 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Catching Freedom
2. Honor Marie
3. Tuscan Gold
4. Track Phantom
Mar 30, 2024UAE DerbyMeydan Racecourse1 3/16 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Forever Young (JPN)
2. Auto Bahn (ARG)
3. Pandagate
4. Mendelssohn Bay
Mar 30, 2024Florida DerbyGulfstream Park1 1/8 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Fierceness
2. Catalytic
3. Grand Mo the First
4. Conquest Warrior
Mar 30, 2024Arkansas DerbyOaklawn Park1 1/8 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Muth
2. Just Steel
3. Mystik Dan
4. Timberlake
Apr 6, 2024Wood MemorialAqueduct1 1/8 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Endlessly
2. West Saratoga
3. Seize the Grey
4. Triple Espresso
Apr 6, 2024Blue GrassKeeneland1 1/8 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Endlessly
2. West Saratoga
3. Seize the Grey
4. Triple Espresso
Apr 6, 2024Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita1 1/8 Miles100-50-30-20-101. Endlessly
2. West Saratoga
3. Seize the Grey
4. Triple Espresso
Apr 13, 2024Lexington StakesKeeneland1 1/16 Miles20-10-6-4-21. Endlessly
2. West Saratoga
3. Seize the Grey
4. Triple Espresso

European Road to the Kentucky Derby
Sep 23, 2023Alan Smurfit Memorial BeresfordCurragh1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Deepone
2. Chief Little Rock
3. Grosvenor Square
Sep 30, 2023Juddmonte Royal LodgeNewmarket1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Ghostwriter
2. Al Musmak
3. Capulet
5. SON
Oct 1, 2023Qatar Prix Jean-Luc LagardèreLongchamp7 Furlongs10-5-3-2-11. Rosallion
2. Unquestionable
3. Beauvatier
Oct 28, 2023Kameko Futurity TrophyDoncaster1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Ancient Wisdom
2. Devil’s Point
3. God’s Window
4. Deira Mile
Dancing Gemini
Mar 1, 2024Patton StakesDundalk1 Mile20-10-6-4-21. Bergamasco
2. Nerano
3. Navy Seal
Mar 13, 2024Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition StakesKempton Park1 Mile20-10-6-4-21. Notable Speech
2. Cuban Tiger
3. Solomon
4. Arctic Thunder
Blown Away
Mar 30, 2024Cardinal StakesChelmsford City1 Mile30-15-9-6-3 

Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby
Nov 25, 2023Cattleya StakesTokyo Racecourse1 Mile10-5-3-2-11. Amante Bianco
2. George Tesoro
3. Unquenchable
4. Star Turn
More Than Once
Dec 13, 2023Zen-Nippon Nisai YushunKawasaki Racecourse1 Mile20-10-6-4-21. Forever Young
2. Aigle Noir
3. Saint Honore
4. Nasty Weather
Satono Phoenix
Feb 18, 2024HyacinthTokyo Racecourse1 Mile30-15-9-6-31. Ramjet
2. Unquenchable
3. Habire
4. Logi Adelaide
5. Chikappa
Mar 23, 2024Fukuryu StakesNakayama1 1/8 Miles40-20-12-8-4 

How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Betting on Kentucky Derby Prep Races at  BUSR is very straightforward.
Start by:

  1. Entering your login credentials and logging in.

  1. Click or tap on the horse racing section.

  1. Browse through the list of races and select the specific Kentucky
    Derby Prep Race you’re interested in. These will be named individually (e.g., Florida Derby,
    Santa Anita Derby).

  1. Each horse participating in the selected prep race will have odds
    listed. Review these along with recent form, track records, trainer success rates, and
    jockey performances to refine your betting strategy.

  1. Decide on the type of bet you’d like to place. Options include
    straightforward bets like Win, Place, Show, or more complex wagers such as Exacta, Trifecta,
    Superfecta, and so on.

  1. Click “ADD TO BET SLIP” to add your selections.

  1. Review your bet slip. This is found on the right side of the
    screen (desktop) or in a mobile ‘Shopping Cart’ and allows you to make necessary adjustments
    if required.

  1. Confirm and finalize your wager by clicking “PLACE BET.”

  1. You’ll receive a ticket number as confirmation that your bet has
    been placed.


When is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is the inaugural event of the Triple Crown and is
scheduled for May 4th, 2024.

Which is the most important Kentucky Derby prep

Each one of these races can significantly impact the final leaderboard,
with 210 points to be divided among the top five finishers.

How many prep races are there for the Kentucky

There are a total of 36 races split into the Prep Season (20) and the
Championship Series (16). Additionally, there are 7 races in the European Road to the Kentucky Derby
and 4 races in the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Is the Road to the Kentucky Derby part of the Triple

No, the Road to the Kentucky Derby is a series of qualifying races that
determine which horses can compete in the Kentucky Derby, not a part of the Triple Crown

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