How Horses Qualify for the Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby is one of the most sought-after horse races in the industry. It offers 3-year old horses to run and make a name in the horse racing industry. However, because the race is one of the Triple Crown races and is considered a prestigious event, horses need to undergo a series of challenges to reach their final destination: the Churchill Downs. 

If you are wondering how a racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby, here are the steps they need to take to become one of the greatest racehorses in history that gets to run at the iconic horse racing event. 

The Horse Should Be 3-Year Old

The horses in the Kentucky derby should be three years old to qualify. It is why the Kentucky Derby is known to be a once-in-a-lifetime event for horses. After that, they won’t be able to qualify in the Derby anymore. 

The reason behind this rule is to produce a fair and fierce competition where all horses are at the same age, which means they also have the same power and agility. 

Therefore, to qualify in the Kentucky Derby race, your horse should be a 3-year old thoroughbred who is willing to pursue the next steps in his racing career. 

Join Prep Races

Horses should contend in the prep races before they can get to run in the Kentucky Derby. These races are created and designed by the Kentucky Derby organization to make horses eligible for the main event.

As a result, the Kentucky prep races have also become a massive attraction for many. This event was called the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby,’ where horse racing enthusiasts and punters are given a chance to see how each horse runs on the field. 

With the prep races, you will also know the strongest horse and maybe even predict who will win the Derby. Therefore, you can place your bet on the right horse that has the highest chance of winning. 

The Horses Should Gather Points

During their Kentucky Derby prep races, horses who wish to run at the Churchill Downs should gather points. The Road to the Kentucky Derby gives out points to the top four finishers of each prep race. 

As the Kentucky Derby event gets closer, the points on the prep races increase, giving more significant points to the top four winners. The horses who reach a minimum of 40 points will enter the Kentucky Derby Race. 

There are thirty-five Kentucky Prep Races to be held through seven states, namely New York, California, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. 

The Wild Card Event 

The last race of the Road to the Kentucky Derby is the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, which also serves as the wild card race of the event. It offers a score of 20-8-4-2 to the top four winners. 

The Lexington Stakes is an opportunity for the hopeful horses to earn additional points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby race. After this wild card race, horses are given three weeks to rest and prepare for the big event, which is the Kentucky Derby. 

Pay the Entry and Starting Fee

Horses who participate in the Kentucky Derby need to pay for an entry and starting fee. First, you need to pay the early nomination fee or the late nomination fee. Horses should be nominated to be eligible in the Kentucky Derby. 

If you want to enter a horse in the Derby, you should pay $25,000 as an entry fee and an additional $25,000 as the starting fee. Moreover, to be nominated early, you should pay a $600 early nomination fee. But if you decide to be nominated late, you will have to pay a late nomination fee of $6,000. 

Winning the Kentucky Derby will earn you a significant amount of money. But before you do, you will need to spend some money first. 

Horses from Other Continents Can Also Qualify

The Road of the Kentucky Derby is also held in other locations aside from the United States. There are races held in Japan, U.A.E, Ireland, and the U.K. These international prep race events give opportunities to eligible horses from all around the world. 

If the horses who enter the prep races from other locations get the qualifying score, they will be invited to play in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Therefore, if you are outside the United States and have a horse eligible to participate in the Derby, you should enter the prep races event near you. 

It Is Not Easy to Qualify on Kentucky Derby

Horses you see participating in the Kentucky Derby went through a lot. Kentucky horses are considered top classes because they have succeeded in all the hardships they encounter. Not all horses make it to the Kentucky Derby, but only those who are the best do. 

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