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Churchill Downs changes horse qualifying for Kentucky Derby to more fan-friendly points system
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) ' Churchill Downs is revamping the eligibility system that sets the field for the Kentucky Derby.
Track President Kevin Flanery said Thursday the Louisville track is scrapping the system of using graded stakes earnings to determine Derby starters. It's being replaced by a point system that Flanery said will be more understandable for fans and horsemen.
"What we're hoping to do is create a compelling story, and an easy to follow understandable path to the Kentucky Derby," he said.
The new system will remove some of the guesswork, he said. The 36 races that are part of the point system include key races during the 2-year-old season leading into the 3-year-old season.
The Derby has used the graded stakes system since 1986 to determine which horses get into the race, which is run on the first Saturday in May.
Churchill Downs is calling the new point system "Road to the Kentucky Derby."
"We're implementing a more fan-friendly, cohesive and simplified system that should create compelling drama and appeal to a wider customer base," Churchill Downs CEO Bob Evans said in a statement.
Churchill Downs said it conducted a poll of more than 300 sports fans nationwide that found that 83 percent did not understand how a thoroughbred qualifies for the Derby.