Racehorses trained in Europe will be able to secure a guaranteed place in US race the Kentucky Derby for the first time ever next year.
The Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes at Kempton Park on 18 March 2009 — will guarantee the winner a spot in next year’s Kentucky Derby line-up (2 May 2009) — plus £80,000 winnings.
Previously, places in the Kentucky Derby went to horses with the highest Graded or Group stakes earnings worldwide.
With European race winnings being less than US winnings it meant European horses struggled to gain a slot.
The new race has gained support from some of Britain and Ireland’s top trainers including John Gosden, Dermot Weld, Sir Mark Prescott and Aidan O’Brien.
“I think the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes is a great idea and hopefully we will have runners in it,” said Aidan O’Brien.
While Sir Mark Prescott added: “I think the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes is a splendid idea and if you have got the right horse it provides you with a wonderful chance to go”.
The race is the result of a link between Churchill Downs — the home of the Kentucky Derby — and Kempton Park Racecourse in Middlesex.
Amy Starkey, managing director of Kempton Park Racecourse said: “The Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes is a fantastic opportunity to increase the international profile of Kempton. It will also promote the Kentucky Derby to European-based owners and trainers.”
John Smee, group racing director for Jockey Club Racecourses, added: “The introduction of the Kentucky Derby Challenge Stakes reflects the increasingly global nature of horseracing.
“This is the only chance for owners and trainers to secure a berth in the Kentucky Derby on this side of the Atlantic and provides a great showpiece for Kempton Park’s floodlit all weather track.“
The race is for three-year-olds only and will be over nine furlongs. As well as the £80,000 prize-money, the winner will also receive a bonus of $100,000 if they go on to run in the Kentucky Derby.