First look: 2014-15 Enlightened Kentucky Derby/Oaks Trails

In revisiting this year’s Kentucky Derby, I had hoped to see as many horses as possible from my Enlightened Derby Trail, the ones that I felt deserved most to be in the top 20. Or,19, as it turned out to be.
The horses I had rejected based on low point totals who started anyway were
*Chitu: winner of the Sunland Derby, 9th in the KY Derby, and
*Uncle Sigh: 2nd in the Withers and the Gotham. 14th in the KY Derby

Horses that didn’t otherwise belong in the top 19:
Commanding Curve. I’ll eat those 2 words. But I didn’t give him a chance, truly. 3rd in the Louisiana Derby isn’t enough for my Trail.
Among the horses that scored in my top 20 and not in the KY Derby were:
Kid Cruz
Our Caravan
Rise Up
My whole point of having an enlightened trail is to keep elements of the point system that’s in place (and which I think will die a long death if it ever does), along with having proper representation of all racing in North America, feeding into the tradition and specialness that makes this Derby what it is. Yes, it’s still special without the points and such. But look at the system that’s in place. It’s top heavy with racing in NY and California. Some of the races are not the best example a track can offer toward the Derby, especially those that are on turf, or require a contender to go through one geographic area if there are points still needed at the very end, as was the case with the all-weather Keeneland experience.
In essence, I’ve created mini Derby Trails. Entries to my Enlightened Derby Trail depend on who scores the most points under my system in a given geographical division. A few representatives from each division plus all that comprise what I call minor tracks is what’s called for here. When there are defections, the nod would then go to all-comers based on points, then earnings.

Here are the specific rules for tracks on my Trails:
I take the track’s one best representative race that would fit on a Derby Trail.

op ranked track ideally would be a Grade event for 3YO, ranked further by Grade 1 2 or 3, then by purse. The 3YO Grade events should be held between January 1 and 2 weeks before the Blue Grass Stakes. I considered all races for open company for 2YOs between June 1 and December 31.
At the top level, examples are obvious: Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, etc. The most points for positions one through 4 are assigned here.
The next general level down in points go to tracks whose best race is an ungraded event for 3YO. Examples include the Calder Derby.

Next level down from there are the tracks whose best race is Graded for 2YO. I considered all races for open company for 2YOs between June 1 and December 31. Examples include Churchill Downs’ Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
For extra consideration I add here the Breeders Cup Juvenile and Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies, which trump all races in this category.
The lowest level are for the minor tracks, all those whose best race is ungraded for 2YOs. The great majority of tracks on the EDT fall in this category. Races such as the Governor’s Cup at Zia Park and the Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs are here.

Using information from and projecting the calendars for 2015, I built my overlighting pair of trails, one for the Derby (40 tracks), and one for the Oaks (33 tracks and races)

The 2014/2015 trails for both are linked in the worksheet.

During the Trail I will update these pages with point totals and provide cumulative totals in a separate page, including divisional totals.

The top 4 from each of the 5 divisions (NY, Cali, Heartland, South and the minor tracks) all gain entry into the Derby. I’ll also list those who fall outside out the top 20 and post who would be next in in case of defections.

The divisions are:
NY: Aqueduct, Belmont, Saratoga, Woodbine
Cali: Santa Anita (2 races), Los Alamitos, Del Mar, Golden Gate
South: Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Sunland, Tampa Bay, Delta Downs, Oaklawn
Heartland: Arlington Park, Churchill, Turfway Park, Keeneland
In the major divisions, I’d take the top 3 horses in each based on my points system.
Minor tracks include all others in the chart. I take the top 4 point-getters from horses in the listed race from all 21 tracks.
In the Oaks Trail, where I identified 33 horses, the divisions look like this:
NY: Saratoga, Woodbine, Belmont, Aqueduct
Cali: Del Mar, Santa Anita (2 races), Los Alamitos
South: Delta Downs, Tampa Bay, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, Oaklawn
Heartland: Arlington Park, Churchill, Turfway Park, Keeneland
Minor tracks are all others listed in the chart.
Since the Oaks is maximized to 14 horses, I’d select the top 3 from each of the major divisions, and the top 2 from the minors.
What I’d love to do is travel to these tracks and be able to journal the experience. I’ve only visited the east coast tracks thus far. Maybe this year? It’s possible. Think of it: A racetrack road trip! Being that I don’t drive, I’d use bus or train, and ideally Megabus, where advance bus tickets start at $1 for inter-city travel. I’m still investigating which tracks I can likely get to. I’m having this sort of wanderlust suddenly. I’d like to visit places I’ve only seen on this here Internet. I’d also want to combine my travels with my other interests in life, music, and spirituality. Might be the subject of a book, or otherwise a rather consise blog with photos and music and such. The more I think of it, the more I feel it must be done.
Got 2 motorsport posts coming overnight for you. That time of year! 

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