Churchill Downs has adjusted its policy on supplemental nominations to the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) to make supplemental entrants eligible to make the field for the race if they have qualified on the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" point system.
Previous track policy allowed supplemental nominations to be accepted for the Kentucky Derby at the time of entry on the Wednesday before the race with payment of a $200,000 fee, but preference was given to original Triple Crown nominees during its early and late nomination periods.
Under the adjusted policy, supplemental nominees will be allowed to be part of the maximum field of 20 horses in the 1 1/4-mile classic if their point totals through the Road to the Kentucky Derby series rank them in the top 20 among the horses entered in the race.
The $200,000 supplemental Triple Crown nomination fee paid prior to the Kentucky Derby goes directly into the Derby purse of $2 million guaranteed and makes the supplemental entrant eligible for all three Triple Crown races.
"When Churchill Downs set the previous policy on supplemental entrants to the Kentucky Derby we were hoping to encourage early nominations to the Triple Crown," said Ben Huffman, Churchill Downs racing secretary, in a release. "We think we did so, but ended up punishing horses that were ultimate late-blooming candidates for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown who would have otherwise qualified to compete in those races. The change in policy provides those horses with a chance to run in the Derby and benefits all owners with horses in the race because the $200,000 supplemental fee will be part of the race purse."
The only supplemental nominee to compete in the Kentucky Derby was Greeley's Galaxy, who finished 11th behind Giacomo in the 2005 Derby after owner B. Wayne Hughes paid the $200,000 supplemental fee. He made the race as the final entrant in the maximum of field of 20 horses entered that year.
Not as fortunate was James Tafel's Unshaded, who was not an original nominee to the 2000 Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown but acquired the needed graded stakes earnings to compete in the Derby when he won the Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland. But more than 20 original nominees were entered in that Kentucky Derby and Unshaded was on the outside looking in when favored Fusaichi Pegasus won that renewal of the "Run for the Roses."