The 2015 road to the Kentucky Derby kicked off in New York on Saturday with the Grade III Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. The first race this year to carry Kentucky Derby qualifying points was won by Zayat Stables’ El Kabeir, getting the third win of his career on a miserably cold and rainy day.
The victory puts El Kabeir at the top of the Derby leaderboard with 21 points in the early stages of Kentucky Derby preps. The top 20 horses in points make it into the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 2nd, a system initiated by Churchill Downs in 2013. That year, it took only 10 points to get in; last year it took 20, putting El Kabeir and trainer John Terranova II in a comfortable position looking ahead to future prep races, with no pressure to run to in order to earn necessary points towards the Derby. El Kabeir earned points last year as a two-year-old in the Grade I Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park in October and the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs.
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Photo of El Kabeir and C. C. Lopez courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese