New ‘Europe road to the Kentucky Derby’ could give Racing Post Trophy winner a path to America’s greatest race

Building upon an initiative to further international interest in America’s greatest race, Churchill Downs officials have partnered with racing officials in England, France and Ireland to create a path to the 144th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands for horses based in Europe. The new “Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby” is a stand-alone series of seven races that is separate from America’s 36-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby” sequence. Only one position in the starting gate for the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby, to be run for 3-year olds at world-famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on Saturday, May 5, 2018, will be awarded to the horse that accrues the most points in the “Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby” and accepts an invitation to compete.
“With premier races for Europe’s top horses often staged on turf in the months of May through October, we felt it was important to work with our European partners to create a distinctive path for horsemen who are interested in the Kentucky Derby,”said Mike Ziegler, executive director of racing for Churchill Downs Incorporated. “Any European horse that intends to test the Kentucky Derby now has an opportunity to qualify for the 1 ¼-mile dirt classic by competing in the new series, which culminates with a trio of early-in-the-year races over synthetic surfaces at Kempton Park, Dundalk and Newcastle. By working with great partners at the racecourses along with the British Horseracing Authority, France Galop and Horse Racing Ireland governing bodies, we’re optimistic this new series can add to the worldwide popularity of the Kentucky Derby.”
The “Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby” includes a top-level quartet of one-mile juvenile turf races that will award points to the Top 4 finishing positions: 10 points to the winner, four points to the runner-up, two points to the third-place horse and one point to the fourth-place finisher.
The 2-year-old races are the Sept. 24 Beresford (Group 2) at Naas Racecourse in Ireland; the Sept.30 Royal Lodge (G2) at England’s Newmarket Racecourse; the Oct. 1 Prix Jean-Luc Legardère (G1) on the Prix de l’Arc deTriomphe undercard at France’s Chantilly Racecourse; and the Oct. 28 Racing Post Trophy (G1) at England’s Doncaster
Racecourse. Two one-mile races for 3-year-olds in early March over synthetic “all weather” racing surfaces – a yet to be named event at England’s Kempton Park Racecourse on March 1 and the Patton Stakes at Ireland’s Dundalk Stadium on March 9 – will be awarded points on a scale of 20-8-4-2.The series will climax March 30 with the one-mile Burradon Stakes at England’s Newcastle Racecourse, in which points will increase to 30-12-6-3 for the Top 4 finishers. “Early racing success is compensated in our series but we prefer to emphasize recent form for qualification to the Kentucky Derby, and the creation of this new path provides just that,” Ziegler said.

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