Dave Contarino Explains Horse Qualifying in the Kentucky Derby

137th Kentucky Derby - Preview DayA regular attendee of the Kentucky Derby, Dave Contarino explains how horses are entered and selected for horse racing’s most prominent event.

Community Blog: What are the basic requirements for Kentucky Derby qualification?

Dave Contarino: First of all, the entry must be a 3-year-old thoroughbred horse that ranks in the top 20 in grades stakes earnings among all those nominated.

Community Blog: How does the nomination process work?

Dave Contarino: A nomination entry fee of $600 is required by the established deadlines, followed by another fee paid before May 1. The Kentucky Derby, of course, is held the first Saturday of May. Horses earn a coveted spot in this cherished race through their participation in the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Community Blog: What is the Road to the Kentucky Derby?

Dave Contarino: The Road to the Kentucky Derby is a clearly delineated points system that determines which horses are eligible to compete in the Kentucky Derby. First, the Kentucky Derby Prep Season features 17 races on synthetic or dirt surfaces run between September and February. Then, the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, which hosted 19 events in 2013, includes two legs and a special wild-card round that fully defines the annual field.

Community Blog: Why was this point system created?

Dave Contarino: The point system was developed to create a practical and understandable path for the first leg of the Triple Crown. According to many horse-racing experts, the previous system was simply too confusing, with few people understanding why certain horses were installed as starters for this prestigious race.

Community Blog: What happens in the event of a tie?

Dave Contarino: If more than one house owns the same number of points, then the tiebreaker will be the amount of total earnings in nonrestricted stakes races.

Noted political strategist and adviser Dave Contarino is a resident of Anchorage, Kentucky.

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