The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a points system by which horses qualify for a position in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. It features dozens of stakes races for 2 and 3-year-old Thoroughbreds – the number and specific races have changed slightly over the years. The point system replaced a previous qualifying system that looked at earnings from all graded stakes races worldwide.
April 30 - May 1, 2021
The 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby is a series of races through which horses will qualify for the 2021 Kentucky Derby, which will be held on May 1. The field for the Derby is limited to 20 horses, with up to four 'also eligibles' in case of a late withdrawal from the field. There are three separate paths for horses to take to qualify for the Derby: the main Road consisting of races in North America (plus one in Dubai), the Japan Road consisting of four races in Japan, and seven European races in England, Ireland and France. The top four finishers in the specified races receive points, with higher points awarded in the major prep races in March and April. Earnings in non-restricted stakes races act as a tie breaker.
Although Churchill Downs has not yet made a formal announcement, it is expected that the main Road to the Kentucky Derby will resemble the 2019 Road to the Kentucky Derby, consisting of 36 races, 20 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season and 16 races for the Kentucky Derby Championship Season. The 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby suffered major disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the postponement of the 2020 Derby itself to September.
The dates for most races shown below are based on the placement in the racing calendar from 2018/2019. Similarly, the purses shown below are based on the amounts from the previous year and will be updated when finalized.
|Iroquois||1 1⁄16 miles||$200,000||Churchill Downs||Sep 5 2020||Sittin On Go||Midnight Bourbon||Super Stock||Therideofalifetime|
|American Pharoah||1 1⁄16 miles||$301,000||Santa Anita||Sep 26 2020||Get Her Number||Rombauer||Spielberg||Waspirant|
|Breeders' Futurity||1 1⁄16 miles||$400,000||Keeneland||Oct 3 2020||Essential Quality||Keepmeinmind||Super Stock||Upstriker|
|Champagne||1 mile||$250,000||Belmont||Oct 10 2020||Jackie's Warrior||Reinvestment Risk||Midnight Bourbon||Civil War|
|Breeders' Cup Juvenile||1 1⁄16 miles||$2,000,000||Keeneland||Nov 6 2020||Essential Quality||Hot Rod Charlie||Keepmeinmind||Jackie's Warrior|
|Kentucky Jockey Club||1 1⁄16 miles||$200,000||Churchill Downs||Nov 28 2020|
|Remsen||1 1⁄8 miles||$250,000||Aqueduct||Dec 5 2020|
|Los Alamitos Futurity||1 1⁄16 miles||$500,000||Los Alamitos||Dec 19 2020|
|Springboard Mile||1 mile||$400,000||Remington||Dec 20 2020|
|Jerome||1 mile||$150,000||Aqueduct||Jan 1 2021|
|Sham||1 mile||$100,000||Santa Anita||Jan 2 2021|
|Lecomte||1 1⁄16 miles||$200,000||Fair Grounds||Jan 16 2021|
|Smarty Jones||1 mile||$150,000||Oaklawn||Jan 22 2021|
|Holy Bull||1 mile||$350,000||Gulfstream||Jan 30 2021|
|Withers||1 1⁄8 miles||$250,000||Aqueduct||Feb 6 2021|
|Robert B. Lewis||1 1⁄16 miles||$150,000||Santa Anita||Feb 6 2021|
|Sam F. Davis Stakes||1 1⁄16 miles||$250,000||Tampa Bay||Feb 6 2021|
|John Battaglia Memorial Stakes||1 1⁄16 miles||$100,000||Turfway||Feb 6 2021|
|El Camino Real Derby||1 1⁄8 miles||$100,000||Golden Gate||Feb 13 2021|
|Southwest||1 1⁄16 miles||$500,000||Oaklawn||Feb 15 2021|
Note: 1st=50 points; 2nd=20 points; 3rd=10 points; 4th=5 points.
|Risen Star||1 1⁄8 miles||$400,000||2||Fair Grounds||Feb 13 2021|
|Fountain of Youth||1 1⁄16 miles||$400,000||2||Gulfstream||Feb 27 2021|
|Tampa Bay Derby||1 1⁄16 miles||$350,000||2||Tampa Bay||Mar 6 2021|
|Gotham||1 mile||$300,000||3||Aqueduct||Mar 6 2021|
|San Felipe||1 1⁄16 miles||$400,000||2||Santa Anita||Mar 6 2021|
|Rebel||1 1⁄16 miles||$900,000||2||Oaklawn||Mar 13 2021|
|Sunland Derby||1 1⁄8 miles||$800,000||3||Sunland Park||Mar 30 2021|
These races are the major preps for the Kentucky Derby, and are thus weighted more heavily. Note: 1st=100 points; 2nd=40 points; 3rd=20 points; 4th=10 points.
|Louisiana Derby||1 3⁄16 miles||$1,000,000||2||Fair Grounds||Mar 20 2021|
|UAE Derby||1,900 metres
(~1 3⁄16 miles)
|$2,000,000||2||Meydan||Mar 27 2021|
|Florida Derby||1 1⁄8 miles||$1,100,000||1||Gulfstream||Mar 27 2021|
|Blue Grass Stakes||1 1⁄8 miles||$1,000,000||2||Keeneland||Apr 1 2021|
|Santa Anita Derby||1 1⁄8 miles||$1,000,000||1||Santa Anita||Apr 1 2021|
|Wood Memorial||1 1⁄8 miles||$1,000,000||2||Aqueduct||Apr 3 2021|
|Arkansas Derby||1 1⁄8 miles||$1,000,000||1||Oaklawn Park||Apr 10 2021|
Note: 1st=20 points; 2nd=8 points; 3rd=4 points; 4th=2 points.
|Spiral||1 1⁄8 miles||$200,000||Turfway||Mar 20 2021|
|Lexington||1 1⁄8 miles||$200,000||Keeneland||Apr 10 2021|
The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby is intended to provide a place in the Derby starting gate to the top finisher in the series. If the connections of that horse decline the invitation, their place is offered to the second-place finisher and so on through the top four finishers. If neither of the top four accept, this place in the starting gate reverts to the horses on the main road to the Derby.
|Cattleya Sho||1,600 metres
|Tokyo Racecourse||Nov 28 2020|
|Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun||1,600 metres
|Kawasaki Racecourse||Dec 16 2020|
(~1 1⁄8 miles)
The European Road to the Kentucky Derby is designed on a similar basis to the Japan Road and is intended to provide a place in the Derby starting gate to the top finisher in the series. If the connections of that horse decline the invitation, their place is offered to the second-place finisher and so on. If neither of the top four accept, this place in the starting gate reverts to the horses on the main road to the Derby.
The series consists of seven races – four run on the turf in late 2020 when the horses are age two, plus three races run on a synthetic surface in early 2021.
|Royal Lodge Stakes||1 mile||Newmarket||Sep 26 2020||New Mandate||Ontario||Cobh||Gear Up|
|Beresford Stakes||1 mile||The Curragh||Sep 26 2020||High Definition||Monaasib||Snapraeterea||Sir Lucan|
|Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère||1,600 metres
(about 1 mile)
|Longchamp||Oct 4 2020||Sealiway||Nando Parrado||Laws Of Indices||Libertine|
|Vertem Futurity Trophy||1 mile||Newcastle||Oct 24 2020||Mac Swiney||One Ruler||Baradar||Cobh|
|Patton Stakes||1 mile||Dundalk||Mar 1 2021|
|Road to the Kentucky Derby Conditions Stakes||1 mile||Kempton Park||Mar 4 2021|
|Cardinal Stakes||1 mile||Chelmsford City||Apr 1 2021|