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Earlier this week, Churchill Downs announced two tweaks in its Road to the Kentucky Derby. Thats the series of prep races offering a graduated scale of points to the first four finishers, points that will determine which horses start in the Kentucky Derby should the first leg of the Triple Crown attract more entrants than its 20-starter limit.One of these changes is perfectly sensible, if somewhat innocuous. The other, in the opinion of this corner, is not.The alteration I think almost all of us will agree with and quickly forget about is Churchills replacing the Grey Stakes with the Sam F. Davis Stakes.The Davis is run at Tampa Bay Downs in mid-February at 11/?? miles on dirt. Even though the Davis was won this year by Destin, who later missed by a nose in the Belmont Stakes, the list of winners of the Davis Stakes does not exactly read like a whos who of Triple Crown lore.However, the Davis is the local springboard to the Tampa Bay Derby, which with time is incrementally becoming a higher-profile Kentucky Derby prep. And the Davis fits the profile of a Road to the Derby race far better than the Grey Stakes. The Grey, run in early October, four months before the Davis and seven months before the Derby, has, as Churchill took the effort to point out in its announcement, attracted fields of just six or fewer in three of its past four runnings.Moreover, unlike the Davis, the Grey is run on Woodbines synthetic main track, which resembles the kind of dirt surface on which the Kentucky Derby is run only in the sense that both are shades of brown.So replacing the Grey with the Davis makes sense because it puts the emphasis on 3-year-old dirt form. But in this case, its a slight emphasis. The Davis is a 17-point prep with 10 points to the winner. For purposes of comparison, the final major Kentucky Derby preps offer 10 times the points.The other, far less agreeable change Churchill made in its Derby prep schedule was the introduction of the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Apparently taken by the ninth-place finish in this years Derby by the Japanese colt Lani, Churchill has designated two 1-mile dirt races at Tokyo Racecourse (yours truly visited that track many moons ago; if you ever get the chance, go!) as Derby points preps.The first of these will be the Cattleya Sho on Nov. 26, and the second will be the Hyacinth Stakes, to be run on an as yet undetermined date early next year. The typical sliding points scale applies to both races, but the Cattleya Sho is worth a total of 68 points with 40 going to the winner, and the Hyacinth is an 85-point race with 50 going to the winner.Churchill has made the Japan road to the Derby different from the traditional road in the sense that only one spot in the gate will be open to a Japanese contestant, and that would be the one who accumulates the most points over these two designated races.Among the issues I have with this concept is, the Cattleya Sho is by far the most valuable 2-year-old race in terms of Derby points this year. It offers twice as many points to the winner as the Breeders Cup Juvenile and four times as many points to the winner as every other 2-year-old race in the schedule, races that include the Champagne, Breeders Futurity, Remsen and Los Alamitos Futurity.The point value of the Cattleya Sho completely contradicts the proper emphasis placed on 3-year-old form in the traditional Derby points preps. It also guarantees that the winner of the Cattleya Sho will have a spot in the Derby gate if his connections want, and if the first two finishers of the Hyacinth decline. Not even the Breeders Cup Juvenile winner will be able to claim that.As for the Hyacinth, sure, its points must be blended with the Cattleya Sho. But while its not as egregious as assigning 170 Derby points to the UAE Derby, which has yet to produce an even marginally competitive Kentucky Derby starter, Churchill still valued the Hyacinth on the same level as the Risen Star, Fountain of Youth, Gotham, Tampa Bay Derby, San Felipe and Rebel. And I find that astonishing.The only reasonable conclusion to reach here is Churchill really, really wants Japanese participation in the Kentucky Derby.What I fear here is the Japan road to the Derby will actually produce a horse game enough to come, which might very well deny a much better horse a spot in the Derby gate. This scenario already existed with the UAE Derby, but it now increases exponentially with this new concept.Call me na?ve or provincial if you want, but I want the very best horses possible in the gate for the Derby, and there is little reason to think shippers from Japan or the UAE will help achieve that end.Ironically, the introduction of the Japanese road to the Derby would make sense if Churchill were attempting to maximize Japanese simulcast wagering on the Derby. But as colleague Matt Hegarty reported a couple of days ago, Japan, which boasts one of the largest betting markets in the world, does not allow simulcast wagering on the Derby.Perhaps the introduction of the Japan road to the Derby is Phase 1 in an attempt on the part of Churchill to move a step closer toward Japanese wagering on the Kentucky Derby. But it could be years before Japan softens its stance on international wagering. It might never soften its stance at all. And in the meantime, horses that are simply better than others might be denied a shot at competing in the Kentucky Derby. Lunar Force 1 Italia . "Hes going to have hip surgery on Jan. 7, and hell be expected to rehabilitate for four to six months beyond that," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said Friday in an interview. Air Force 1 Alte Supreme . James, who turned 29 on Monday, injured his groin Friday during the Heats overtime loss at Sacramento. He sat out the following game, a 108-107 win Saturday in Portland, before coming back to help send the Nuggets to their seventh consecutive loss. http://www.airforce1outletitalia.it/scontate-air-force-1-mid-uomo.html . -- An ugly goal by Nick Bonino helped the Anaheim Ducks overcome the defensive-minded Phoenix Coyotes on a night when their ragged power play continued to struggle. Air Force 1 Alte Gore-Tex . Pedro scored from a pass by Lionel Messi in the 33rd minute and added two more goals in the 47th and 72nd after Valdes saved his second penalty in four days following his stop in Wednesdays 4-0 over Ajax in the Champions League. Air Force 1 Mid Bianche . The Dane followed up his first European Tour title last weekend with eight birdies and just a single dropped shot on Thursday for a one-stroke advantage over South Africas Allan Versfeld and Portugals Ricardo Santos. It should be no surprise when Keaton Jennings says he feels very comfortable and very English as he prepares to make his Test debut on Thursday.And if the words at the moment rather underline the somewhat transient nature of modern nationality, it is not an issue with which Jennings can be expected to wrestle. He is 24. And he is reaping the rewards for a decision made when he was a teenager. He has a home in Chester-le-Street. He talks fondly of his local pub. He just wants to play cricket.It is a well-trodden path that Jennings has taken into the England team. Like Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Nick Compton and many, many more, he has utilised a British passport (Jennings mother was born in Sunderland), looked at the unstable nature of South African cricket and the depth of the professional game in England, and come to an understandable conclusion. None of them were poached or coerced; they made perfectly understandable choices that have become common in a mobile, multicultural world.I sat down with my Dad and I felt it would be my best opportunity to live my dream in the UK, he explains. And Im very glad as I sit here now to have made that hard decision. The opportunity, the professionalism - I cant put my exact finger on it - but there was a welcome feeling, and feeling loved, and being pushed as well.That is not to say there are not concerns. For a start, there is an obvious dilution of talent available to the South Africa selectors. By the time South Africa tour England in the summer of 2017, it is anticipated that a new raft of Kolpak registrations will have weakened them further.It also raises questions about the English development system. Why is it, for all the money pumped into grassroots cricket, England remain so disproportionately reliant upon players born and largely developed overseas? Jennings will be - after Trott, Compton and Sam Robson - Cooks fourth opening partner born in South Africa or Australia since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, who was also born in South Africa. The differing climates may be one factor, but it is hard to ignore the suspicion that cricket - absent from most schools and many TV screens - has simply reduced in relevance across much of England and Wales. Take private schools out of the equation, and the situation looks grim.The ECB, to be fair, recognise this. It is the motivation behind their Cricket Unleashed initiative and their plans for a new-look T20. Their vehicle of change may be questionable, but many of their intentions are good.Jennings cannot be expected to worry about such matters. As if standing in the shoes of Haseeb Hameed is not hard enough - Jennings must feel like an Elvis impersonator going on stage after Elvis - he now hhas to deal with a fine India attack.ddddddddddddad he stayed in South Africa, however, Jennings might well be a seasoned international cricketer already. He captained the U19 team (in 2011, he opened the batting with Quinton de Kock in an U19 ODI against England) and, of course, he was steeped in cricket in the family home.He talks of his father often (though he refers to him as coach) and with a softness that belies the hard-man reputation Ray Jennings may have cultivated. And while there were clearly times the younger Jennings was taught some pretty tough lessons, there is little doubt it was wrapped up in the benevolence of a loving father.When I was nine or 10 we went to the nets, Keaton remembers. But it was one of the days when I decided not to listen. He threw me the first ball, I got out. Second ball, I got out. He said you get out one more time were going home. He threw me another ball, I got out. He put his bag down and walked off. From that day forward, I called him Coach. I cant remember the last time I called him dad.Having grown up in a cricket family you talk a lot about cricket. It is very intense from a training and professionalism point of view, but it was also a very loving environment. My mum softens my Dad and has taken the edge off him at home. From the persona of someone who is a hard and concentred man, in the family house he is very loving and gentle.Weve got a very good relationship. Im probably closer to him than I am to anybody else in the world. Hes my father, a role model and a coach. Im blessed to have a person in my life that I trust with my life and that will help me guide my career.Most of the advice passed on from father to son in recent days - and Ray has copious experience as an IPL coach - has been practical in nature. Drink lots of water and make sure its closed bottles, was one of his bigger tips, Keaton says.But there has been a deeper theme to his advice. Despite the cricket drills and apparently intense concentration upon success in the game, Keaton was also taught to embrace other aspects of life and understand that there is much more to it than sport. So he is currently studying for a degree in financial accounting and puts his much-improved performance in 2016 (he scored seven first-class centuries in the season; he had scored five in total before that) down to having found happiness outside the game.My dad made me do one thing in my life and that was to study, he explains. I take my hat off to him. Im really thankful he pushed me in that direction.And he has told me to enjoy the process and the culture of India. ' ' '