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Dec 22, 2011

Also-eligibles to be allowed for Kentucky Derby


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Three-year-olds that do not make the initial field for the Kentucky Derby will be allowed to remain possible for the race as "also-eligibles." The same policy holds for the Derby's sister race, the Kentucky Oaks.

Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, announced Friday that up to four additional horses will basically be on standby should there be scratches from either race. The field for the Derby is limited to 20 and 14 for the Oaks.

"There has been significant discussion in recent years regarding also-eligible entrants for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, especially in light of the late scratches of Derby favorites I Want Revenge in 2009 and Uncle Mo from this year's running," said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs. "Our concerns have always focused on preliminary wagering on the Kentucky Derby permitted during our Kentucky Oaks Day racing program, including refunds of wagers on scratched Derby horses and potential confusion during those two special days among our massive crowds of bettors."

Post positions for the Kentucky Derby are drawn on the Wednesday prior to the running of the race on the first Saturday in May. The Oaks, for three-year-old fillies, is run the day before the Derby with the field drawn on Tuesday.

"Also-eligible horses for Oaks will have nearly three days of opportunity to get into their race, while the Derby's window for also-eligible entrants to participate is just under 48 hours," said Flanery. "We feel strongly that the deadline for also-eligible horses to join the Derby field must be set before preliminary wagering on the race begins. Despite the more limited window for also-eligible horses for the Derby, this system provides owners and trainers an opportunity to keep their Derby dreams alive that has never existed before."

Both races have the same "scratch time" of 9 a.m. (et) on the morning of the Kentucky Oaks. Should either race have any scratches announced prior to the scratch time, the spots will be filled from the also-eligible list based on highest total earnings in graded stakes races.

The 2012 Derby and Oaks will each be contested for the 138th time.

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