The international pathway to the Kentucky Derby has hit its end in Japan, but there are three more major events to go when it comes to the European derby prep races. A total of seven legs comprise this series, which offers a single guaranteed spot to the overall points leader. Like the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, if that leader declines, the offer is extended down the line to the second and third highest on the board.
The European derby prep race legs are contested over turf when the contenders are two-years-old, while three-year-olds will run on synthetic surfaces. Saxon Warrior is currently sitting atop the leader board with 20 points after wins in both the Juddmonte Berrasford and The Racing Post Stakes. He is trailed by Roaring Lion (14 points), Happily (10 points) and a slew of other hopefuls that each have four points.
The aptly named Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition Stakes will run out of Kempton Park in Great Britain on Thursday, March 1st. The Patton Stakes will be hosted by Dundalk Racecourse in Ireland on Friday, March 2nd. Both European derby prep races will cover a distance of one mile and offer a point split of 20-8-4-2 to the top four finishers.
Newcastle Racecourse will host the final leg of the European derby prep race series in the form of the Burradon, which is also one mile in length and ponies up 30 points to the winner. Considering that there isn’t a significant jump for the Burradon in terms of points, Saxon Warrior looks like the most probable winner of the series but it remains to be seen if his connections will decide to run him in the Kentucky Derby. There are too many rich destinations for a good three-year-old competitor to compete in England, France, Ireland and beyond. The chances of the Eureopean derby prep race winner actually stealing the Kentucky Derby are very slim. The Run for the Roses is simply not a race that foreign born Thoroughbreds champion.
This year could be different, and the results of this weekend’s races will help shape the future of what’s to come.