The series of scoring races to qualify for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1) has a familiar look. Churchill Downs announced on Thursday the schedule for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” beginning this fall, and once more the $200,000 Iroquois (G3) serves as the kickoff on September 14 at the Derby’s home track.
The first 19 races on this domestic road comprise the “Prep Season,” as usual offering points on a 10-4-2-1 sliding scale to the top four finishers. The exception is the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), its significance reflected by a double-points scale of 20-8-4-2.
As the Derby trail heats up through the spring, the 16-race “Championship Series” unfolds. Initial preps in this phase are worth 50-20-10-5 points to the top four, and the final major stakes – the Louisiana Derby (G2), UAE Derby (G2), Florida Derby (G1), Wood Memorial (G2), Blue Grass (G2), Santa Anita Derby (G1), and Arkansas Derby (G1) – furnish a windfall of 100-40-20-10.
While the UAE Derby remains the only foreign points race on the main road, international hopefuls have other avenues to qualify on the “European Road” and “Japan Road.” Both series are unchanged from last year, with the same seven races in Europe and four races in Japan. Points tallied in these races count only toward the European or Japanese leaderboard, respectively, and the top scorer in each earns an invitation to the Kentucky Derby.
The companion “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” includes 30 qualifying races. Mirroring the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the fillies’ schedule is divided into 15 “Prep Season” races and 15 during the “Championship Series.” The first points race is the $200,000 Pocahontas (G2), like the Iroquois staged on September 14 at Churchill Downs.
The Kentucky Oaks is set for May 1, 2020, and Derby 146 follows on May 2.