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12 US Prep Races Dates to Watch Out Before 2020 Kentucky Derby

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12 US Prep Races Dates to Watch Out Before 2020 Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby, a legendary 1 1/4-mile race for three-year-olds colts, will be celebrating its 146th anniversary on May 2, Saturday, this year. This horse race has been dubbed as the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” and “The Run for the Roses.”

Only 20 horses are given once in a lifetime chance to run in the race, though. Each horse must travel along the Road to the Kentucky Derby, which are called prep races, to be included in the Kentucky Derby’s contender list. In each race, points are awarded to the top four finishers.

The top 20 horses with the highest points are the only ones who could run in May. There are Japan and European roads to Kentucky, but in this list, we’ve rounded up the prep races in the United States only. Start marking your calendars now!

February 1

Three key prep Derby races happen every year in early February. This 2020, Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park in California, the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack (G3), and the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park in Florida will all take place on the same day, February 1. All of these races offer 10-4-2-1 Derby points to each of theirtop four finishers.

February 8

The winter race Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) will run on February 8 this year. It has been a prep race for Tampa Bay Derby (see March 7). No wonder why Sam F. Davis is usually held at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida. But in recent years, it has been serving as an early Derby prep race and a reference to Kentucky Derby bets, as well. The race also renders points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to its four finalists.

February 15

The El Camino Real Derby (recently degraded) and Risen Star Stakes (G3) will both run on February 15. The former will be held at Golden Gate Fields, California, while the latter will take place at the Fair Grounds Race Course. The races offer points to each of its top four finalists  on a 10-4-2-1 scale and 50-20-10-5 scale, respectively.

February 17

The Southwest Stakes (G3) will again run alongside the US first President Washington’s birthday. It is held annually at Oaklawn Park Race Track in Arkansas. It’s the last prep race in February that give points on a 10-4-2-1 scale, likewise to Robert B. Lewis, Withers, Holy Bull, and El Camino Real Derby.

February 29

A February 29 race only happens once in a blue moon! This year, we’ll have to enjoy this added day with the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). The said race yearly happens at Gulfstream Park in Florida. It doesn’t only serve as an official Kentucky Derby prep race, but also the final prep race for Florida Derby. Also, it’s another minor prep race with a 50-20-10-5 scale.

March 7

Two G2 races, the San Felipe Stakes and Tampa Bay Derby, and another G3 race, the Gotham Stakes are the first prep races in March. They held annually at Santa Anita Park in California, Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, and Aqueduct Racetrack in New York, respectively. What’s more, these three races are all under the first leg races with a 50-20-10-5 point scale.

March 14

On March 14, the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), later called Spiral Stakes, will take place at Turfway Park in South Carolina. In 2018, the race, however, was lowered to a 20-8-4-2 point scale. The Rebel Stakes (G2) will also come about on the said date. Unlike the Spiral, the Rebel offer points on a 50-20-10-5 scale.

March 21

Louisiana Derby (G2), which annually runs at the Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana, will take place on March 21. It’s one of the major prep Kentucky Derby races with the first four home earning points on a 100-40-20-10 basis. In this race, even the 40 points earned by the runner-up is already enough to give him or her a good start on the journey to the Kentucky Derby.


March 22

The next day after Louisiana Derby, Sunland Derby (G3) will take place at Sunland Park in New Mexico. Soon after receiving a Grade III status for the first time in 2010, it was listed as an official Kentucky Derby prep race with a 50-20-10-5 scale.

March 28

The last prep races in March will be the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park in Florida. Both major races will run on the 28th day of the said month, offering points on a 100-40-20-10 scale.

April 4

The first Saturday of April will be filled with three major prep races. These include the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York, Blue Grass or Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland Racecourse in Kentucky, and Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita Park, California. All of these races are on a 100-40-20-10 scale, too.

April 11

One of the last prep races this year is the Lexington Stakes (G3) that annually run at Keeneland Race Course in Kentucky. The American Graded Stakes Committee downgraded the race status to Grade III in 2011. This year, Arkansas Derby (G1) would also run on April 11, still at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. These two races are on different point scales, though. Lexington is on a lower 20-8-4-2 scale, while Arkansas Derby is on a higher 100-40-2-10 scale.



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