Churchill Downs remains bullish on its new points qualifying system for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) but acknowledges there could be "tweaks" for the next Triple Crown cycle.
During a Feb. 7 podcast with The Blood-Horse, Churchill senior director of communications and media services Darren Rogers discussed the Derby qualifying system and its mission, as well as feedback–negative and positive–the track has received from the industry.
Rogers said Churchill realizes the system may de-emphasize 2-year-old, sprint, and turf races as lead-ups to the Derby. But the objective is to focus on dirt races at a distance of at least one mile, he said.
Rogers said the goal is to create interest and drama, particularly in the final six weeks before the May 4 Derby as horses vie for the highest points in key races. He said the system is devised to have a "regular season, regional finals, and regional semi-finals" before the championship: the Kentucky Derby.
"We've had really good discussions with (the industry) since last June," Rogers said. "We will be annually reviewing the races in the series and the points. We've laid out a road map. We anticipate some tweaks, but we have to see how it plays out. We're very comfortable with the direction it's taking."