NEW ORLEANS (Thursday, June 14, 2012) – A revamped points-based qualifying system for the Kentucky Derby announced today includes the Louisiana Derby in the highest tier of prep races for the world’s most famous horse race. Under the new rules, 3-year-old Thoroughbreds will earn their way to the Kentucky Derby by amassing points in select stakes events. The $1 million Louisiana Derby (GII), the signature event at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, is one of only seven races that will offer the maximum 170 points.

Since 1986, Churchill Downs had determined the Kentucky Derby field based on a horse’s career earnings in graded stakes.

The milestone 100th Louisiana Derby will be run on March 30, 2013, five weeks prior to the 139th Kentucky Derby. The Louisiana Derby winner will receive 100 points toward Kentucky Derby eligibility, with 40 points going to the runner-up, 20 points for third and 10 points to fourth.

Only 36 stakes events overall (including one in Canada and two run overseas), will be part of the new “Road to the Kentucky Derby” point system. Of those, 17 of the most important stakes will be showcased as part of a more compact “Kentucky Derby Championship Series.”

The first two stakes in Fair Grounds’ three-race graded stakes series for 3-year-olds also made the list. The Risen Star (GII), which joins the Louisiana Derby as part of the Championship Series, will be worth a total of 85 points (50-20-10-5) and the Lecomte will offer (GIII) 17 points (10-4-2-1).

“The Louisiana Derby has long been among the premier Kentucky Derby prep races but this new system formalizes it in a way that will be easier for casual fans to follow,” said Fair Grounds President Tim Bryant. “Fair Grounds commends our colleagues at Churchill Downs for improving this process while maintaining the integrity and traditions of the Derby trail. The inclusion of all three of our graded stakes for 3-year-olds in the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ is further validation of what we already knew – that there is no better place than Fair Grounds to prepare a promising Triple Crown candidate.”

Churchill Downs also announced a similar point system for 3-year-old fillies aspiring to the $1 million Kentucky Oaks. All three of Fair Grounds’ major route stakes for 3-year-old fillies were included in the new “Road to the Kentucky Oaks.” The Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) will be one of the premier 170-point (100-40-20-10) stakes, the Rachel Alexandra (GIII) will be worth 85 points (50-20-10-5) and the Silverbulletday will offer 17 points (10-4-2-1).

The complete Fair Grounds stakes schedule, with dates and purses for all of the relevant 3-year-old and 3-year-old filly prep races, will be announced later this month.