Churchill Downs (CHDN) is making changes to its “Road to the Kentucky Derby” Championship Series; adding a path to the race for European horses, as it looks to stimulate international interest in the 2018 race presented by Yum! Brands (YUM). The “European Road to the Kentucky Derby” will consist of 7 races, with the horse accruing the most points winning an invitation to the race. Last year, CHDN introduced a path for dirt racing horses based in Japan, to participate in the fastest 2 minutes in sports.
Howie Long-Short: Horse racing is one of 4 sports that can be legally gambled on in Japan and as of 2016, that includes on foreign races. In 2015, the country waged $22.5 billion on the ponies and CHDN wants some of that juice. Expanding the Japanese series is only going to get that audience more invested in May’s run to roses.
Fan Marino: Don’t expect a horse that races on foreign soil to win America’s greatest race. It’s been 46 years since Canonero II (Venezuela) won the Kentucky Derby.