From the time it was announced, the point system devised by Churchill Downs for determining Kentucky Derby entrants received a significant amount of attention, discussion, and criticism. In its inception, the switch from graded stake earnings to the point system had a few goals:
1. Emphasize the prep races closer to the Derby so that horses “on form” are more likely to gain entry;
2. Eliminate the influence of prep races that were shorter than 1 mile, but nevertheless yielded graded stakes earnings (i.e. the Hutchison Stakes at Gulfstream; the Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct);
3. Eliminate the influence of graded stakes races run on turf (i.e. the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream;
4. Eliminate the possibility of a filly qualifying by running in restricted races only;
5. Screw Hawthorne Race Course and the Illinois Derby.
Fundamentally, the purpose of the system was to try to get the 20 best three year old route horses as of the first Saturday in May into the gate at Churchill Downs. But now that we have completed two years of the point system, is the system working?