When the Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby begins Saturday, Sept. 18, the trail to the Run for the Roses will proceed without the trainer synonymous with Derby success: Bob Baffert.
Churchill Downs announced in a Friday statement that no Derby qualifying points will be awarded to “any horse trained by any individual who is suspended from racing in the 2022 Kentucky Derby or any trainer directly or indirectly employed, supervised, or advised by a suspended trainer.”
That encompasses Baffert, the seven-time Derby-winning trainer, who was suspended by Churchill Downs earlier this spring. That came after his 2021 Derby-winning Medina Spirit tested positive for the banned-on-race-day, anti-inflammatory betamethasone. Baffert is currently fighting the charges and Medina Spirit remains – for now – the Derby champion.
Should a Baffert-trained horse earn Derby points, those points will be vacated.
The ban on Lasix, instituted for this year’s entries, remains. Only horses running free of the anti-bleeding medication can earn Derby points. The same rules apply for the Kentucky Oaks qualifiers.
Derby trail opens at the home of the Run for the Roses
The 37-race Derby trail begins at Churchill Downs Sept. 18 with the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes, which sends its 2-year-old contestants 1 1/16 miles. That is one of the track’s marquee races on its 12-day September Meet. That race under the Churchill Downs lights opens the 21-race Prep Season.
Those races, beginning at one mile and progressing longer from there, go from mid-September to mid-February. They offer 10-4-2-1 points to the top four placers. The exception is the Nov. 5 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar. That race offers double the points (20-8-4-2).
The inaugural 1 1/16-mile Gun Runner at Fair Grounds Sunday, Dec. 26 joins that series as the newest Derby trail stop. All told, 13 tracks around the country play host to Prep Season races.
The points get serious in February
Starting in mid-February, the 16-race Championship Series takes over. That begins with the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds, the first of seven races on seven different tracks offering 50-20-10-5 qualifying points to the top four finishers. Eight races offer the maximum 100-40-20-10 points. Those stretch from California (Santa Anita Derby) to Dubai (UAE Derby). Sandwiched among that in the early spring is the Lexington at Keeneland, which offers 20-8-4-2 points.
Along with the American Derby trail, two other Derby series run simultaneously: four Japanese races and seven races in Europe.
This marks the 10th year Churchill Downs used a point system to determine the Derby field. From 2004 to 2019, the race sent its 20-horse maximum out of the gate.
For the complete 37-race Road to the Kentucky Derby, click here.