Kentucky Derby Eligibility

It might be hard to believe, but the Kentucky Derby is quickly approaching, and thus the major prep races for eager three year olds are about to hit full swing. Entry to the Derby, if there are more than 20 applicants, is based upon career winnings. The 20 horses that apply for the race that have earned the most money will be given the go ahead to run.

This is not confined to the three year old season. Horses that got a head start as two year olds, like Uncle Mo, have an advantage over horses that rested last year. This means that you will see the races with bigger purses receive a lot of action between now and May. The Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 26th and the Grade 1 Florida Derby on April 3rd, both at Gulfstream Park, are two of the most prominent examples. Winning two or more major purses practically guarantees a spot in the starting gate on Kentucky Derby day.

Of course, different horses will run in different races. Because of this, using earnings as a handicapping device is not reliable. This is especially true in Uncle Mo’s case. Winning the Breeders’ Cup two year old race back in November gave him a huge advantage when it comes to earnings. As of the end of January, Uncle Mo was over $500,000 ahead of the second place horse when looking at earnings.