August 31, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Eager to increase international interest in the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is giving Europe a chance to have a potential entry in America's greatest race next year as well as adding a prep race in the Midwest as part of its points series that decides the 20-horse field.

The track said Thursday it is creating a series of seven races in Europe separate from the 36-race ''Road to the Kentucky Derby'' series in the U.S. One starting spot will be awarded to the European-based horse that accumulates the most points and accepts an invitation to run in the May 5 race. Last year, the track introduced a series of races for a Japan-based horse to gain entry to the Derby.

The seven European races will award a sliding scale of points to the top four finishers.

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