Jockey Club and Ascot build Churchill Downs ties

Two runners from the Kentucky Derby meeting in 2024 will be offered wild card entries for the Epsom Classics run in June four weeks later.

A runner from the Edgewood Stakes, run on Kentucky Oaks day (May 3), will receive an entry and travel incentive for the Betfred Oaks on May 31, while a colt from the American Turf Stakes on Kentucky Derby day will get the same privileges for the Betfred Derby.

Jockey Club Racecourses and Ascot have been coordinating with Churchill Downs Incorporated to create links between historic races in the UK and the top turf races in the United Stakes, with the aim of increasing runners between the two countries.

With that in mind, there will also be wild card spots up for grabs in the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Stakes for the King Charles III Stakes (formerly King’s Stand) and the Old Forester Turf Classic Stakes for either the Prince of Wales’s Stakes or the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot.

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Soul Sister and Frankie Dettori won the Betfred Oaks this year
Soul Sister and Frankie Dettori won the Betfred Oaks this year (David Davies/PA)

In return, a runner from the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Queen Anne will receive the same incentive for the Arlington Million and a runner from the Falmouth will be invited to the Beverly D Stakes.

The winners will be invited but should they not take it up, the racecourses may turn to the placed horses instead.

Matt Woolston, assistant racing and international racing director at The Jockey Club, said: “We’re delighted to develop these links with races at the Kentucky Derby Meeting in its 150th year.

“A trip to Churchill Downs is one that should be on the bucket list for every racing fan, the world over. The Kentucky Derby itself can trace its origin back to Epsom Downs in 1780, when Diomed won the very first Derby, and we are proud to reinforce this historic link.

Mostahdaf was an impressive winner of the Prince of Wales's Stakes in June
Mostahdaf was an impressive winner of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in June (John Walton/PA)

“These historic races already have an international reputation and we want to welcome more and more international runners in the years to come.”

Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot racecourse, said: “We are very excited to be working with Churchill Downs and the UK Jockey Club on this exciting new initiative.

“We were very pleased to play our part hosting the Churchill team at Royal Ascot last year, with the Kentucky Derby trophy on display as they built up to this important 150th running of the world’s greatest dirt race.

“We have a rich modern history of American runners at Royal Ascot and their success always adds hugely to the meeting.”

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