Are three-year-old fillies eligible to run in the 2,000 Guineas & the Derby?

Are three-year-old fillies eligible to run in the 2,000 Guineas & the Derby? The simple answer is yes, they are. Although the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby as billed as “colts'” Classics, they are, in fact, open to horses of both sexes, but not geldings.The only proviso is that horses have run at least once and achieved an official handicap rating of 80 or more, or an equivalent level of form, in the eyes of the official handicap. In both cases, fillies receive a 3lb allowance from their male counterparts.

Three-year-old fillies may be eligible to run in the 2,000 Guineas and the Derby but, nowadays, rarely do so. Indeed, the last filly to win the 2,000 Guineas was Garden Path who, in 1944, justified favouritism in a wartime renewal, run on the July Course, rather than the Rowley Mile, at Newmarket. The last filly to win the ‘Derby’ was Fifinella who, in 1916, won a wartime substitute, known as the ‘New Derby Stakes’ also, coincidentally, run on the July Course at Newmarket.

Modern trainers prefer their top-class fillies to pursue the 1,000 Guineas and/or Oaks route, not least because both “fillies'” Classics are restricted to three-year-old fillies only. Notwithstanding funding cuts due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas are worth exactly the same prize money and, although the premier colts’ Classic, the Derby, offers a purse three times higher than the Oaks, fillies have a much better chance of winning against their own sex.