The counterpart to the Kentucky Derby (which is open to both male and female horses) is the Kentucky Oaks, a 1 1/8-mile race at Churchill Downs restricted to three-year-old fillies. It has historically been run on the Friday before the first Saturday in May, followed by the Derby the next day. That means the 2021 Kentucky Oaks will be held on April 30, 2021.
The odds for the Kentucky Derby were last updated on April 18, 2021:
2021 Kentucky Oaks Odds
The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade 1 stakes race and carries a purse of $1,250,000. Like the Derby, the Oaks was first run in 1875, and they together remain the oldest annually contested sporting events in America. They are also the oldest horse races in America to be held in the same location since their inception.
Similar to the blanket of roses that goes to the winner of the Derby, the winner of the Kentucky Oaks receives a blanket of lilies - Lilies for the Fillies.
Kentucky Oaks Picks
As one of the most popular races in the United States, the Kentucky Oaks always produces huge betting pools. You can get in on the action and get the best Kentucky Oaks odds at the best online racebooks.
The Kentucky Oaks/Derby Double is a popular wager where the bettor must select the winner of both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby the next day. Waiting 24 hours to find out if the wager hits can be nerve-wracking. But, it is a unique and rewarding betting experience!
If you like price horses in the Derby and the Oaks, this wager gives you a nice payoff. In 2020, when Shedaresthedevil and Authentic won the Oaks and the Derby, neither were favorites and the Oaks/Derby Double paid $161.10 for a $1 wager. The Oaks/Derby Double paid $1,290.50 in 2019, thanks to longshots Serengeti Empress in the Oaks and Country House in the Derby. When 50 – 1 Giacomo won the Kentucky Derby in 2005, and 4-1 Summerly had won the Oaks, the double paid $595.20.
Princess of Sylmar in 2013 was a 38-1 longshot who won the Kentucky Oaks over favorites Dreaming of Julia and Beholder; the latter would go on to win three Breeders’ Cup races. The longest shot to win in Kentucky Oaks' history was Lemons Forever in 2006; she scored at 47 – 1.
Kentucky Oaks Results
As might be expected in a race with such a long and storied history, many Kentucky Oaks winners have gone on to become year-end champions and even Hall of Fame inductees. The list includes Silverbulletday, who was the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in 1998 and Champion Three-Year-Old Filly in 1999, the year she won the Oaks.
In 2007, Rags to Riches won the Kentucky Oaks. Five weeks later, she faced males in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and got into an all-time great stretch duel against an all-time great horse, Curlin. She became the first filly in 102 years, since Tanya in 1905, to win the Belmont.
In 2009 the winner was Rachel Alexandra, who, after her Oaks win, ran in the Preakness Stakes and beat a field of 12 males to become the first filly to win the race in 85 years. She was named Horse of the Year for 2009 over Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winning mare Zenyatta.
More recently, Untapable won the Oaks in 2014, and then took on older mares and won the 2014 Breeders' Cup Distaff, on her way to being named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly for the year.
Kentucky Oaks Racing Tips
The best prep races for the Kentucky Oaks are the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) and the Ashland Stakes (G2).
In recent years, the Fair Grounds Oaks has become an important prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, with winners Untapable (2014) and Believe You Can (2012) both winning at Fair Grounds before shipping in for the Oaks. Equally important is the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, with Monomoy Girl (2018), Cathryn Sophia (2016), and Lovely Maria (2015) all using the Ashland as the prep for their Kentucky Oaks wins. It is important for handicappers to pay close attention to the results of those events when filling out a betting ticket for the race.
As for how they won, while none of the winners went wire-to-wire in the race, all but Princess of Sylmar were forwardly placed throughout the race and were able to pounce on the pacesetters as they made the turn into the stretch, take the lead and then ease away for the win, so it's important to consider horses that tend to break quickly from the gate and are able to establish a good stalking position early.
None of the Kentucky Oaks winners of the last five years has been the betting favorite — not even Monomoy Girl! The last two winners have returned double-digit odds: 2019 winner Serengeti Empress was a 13 - 1 longshot, and 2020 winner Shedaresthedevil paid 15 - 1.
Historically, one of the most dominant performances in the Kentucky Oaks came in 2009, when the great Rachel Alexandra took the race by a record 20 1/4, incredibly running just a quarter-second off the race record for 1 1/8 miles despite the fact she wasn't being pushed by any other horses in the race.
Silverbulletday was another popular winner, who was champion filly in the US in both her two-year-old and three-year-old season, and who also won the 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Her offspring have gone on to produce stars like $664,000 earner Shakin It Up and $506,000 earner Govenor Charlie.
There has only ever been one winner disqualified from the Kentucky Oaks. In 1924, Glide was first under the wire but was judged by the stewards to have caused interference in the stretch drive, and the win was awarded to the second-place finisher, Princess Doreen, who would go on to have a Hall of Fame racing career.
Kentucky Oaks Contenders
Travel Column is the leading contender for the 2021 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on September 4. The daughter of Frosted won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), a perennially live Kentucky Oaks prep race, over Clairiere. Travel Column is trained by Brad Cox, who has won two of the last three runnings of the Kentucky Oaks, with Monomoy Girl (2018) and Shedaresthedevil (2020).
Malathaat is the other top Kentucky Oaks contender in 2021. A daughter of Preakness winner Curlin out of Dreaming of Julia, who ran fourth in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, Malathaat won the Ashland Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. She is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has won the Kentucky Oaks with Ashado (2004), Rags to Riches (2007), and Princess of Sylmar (2013).
Other 100-point prep winners expected to run in the Kentucky Oaks include Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) winner Crazy Beautiful, Santa Anita Oaks (G1) winner Soothsay, Gazelle (G3) winner Search Results, and Fantasy (G3) winner Pauline's Pearl.
Other longer shots to consider for the Kentucky Oaks include Clairiere, Millefeuille, Pass the Champagne, and Maracuja.
Kentucky Oaks Lineup
The Kentucky Oaks has been won by trainer Woody Stephens five times, the most of any trainer. Calumet Farm has the most wins by an owner, most recently in 1979. No jockey has won the race more than four times, with Eddie Arcaro and Manuel Ycaza sharing that title.
The Kentucky Oaks has been run at four different distances, but Bird Town holds the 1 1/8-mile record of 1:48.64.
Rosie Napravnik made headlines by riding the winner in both 2012 and 2014. She was the first female jockey since Julie Krone to win a lot of major races in the United States, and to win two Kentucky Oaks in three years was a huge achievement.
For all their great victories, D. Wayne Lukas has only won the Kentucky Oaks four times (most recently in 1990 with Seaside Attraction) and Bob Baffert has only won it three times (most recently with Abel Tasman in 2017). Todd Pletcher won it in 2004, 2007, and 2013, but it is Larry Jones who has done well of late, winning in 2008 with Proud Spell, 2012 with Believe You Can, and 2015 with Lovely Maria.
Kentucky Oaks Betting
Betting on the Kentucky Oaks depends on the Kentucky Oaks odds and the number of horses in the race. Churchill Downs will offer wagering for win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, and superfecta in the Oaks. 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil paid $32.20 to win. She topped a $118.80 exacta over the second choice Swiss Skydiver.
Horses earn their way in by winning or placing in points races for the Kentucky Oaks. The series starts in September of their two-year-old year and includes the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November.
In the spring, prep races include the Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans, the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, the UAE Oaks in Dubai, the Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park, and the Gulfstream Park Oaks there as well. Though later races were added in 2020 after the race was postponed to September, the race is back to its usual spring timing in 2021.
Post positions will be drawn for the 2020 Kentucky Oaks on Monday, April 26. That is when the final field will be determined, including jockeys. The Oaks will be run on Friday, April 30.