The counterpart to the Kentucky Derby (which is open to both male and female horses) the Kentucky Oaks is restricted to three-year-old fillies, and is always run on the first Friday of May, followed by the Derby the next day. The Kentucky Oaks is rated as a Grade 1 stakes race, and is run over 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Churchill Downs, and carries a purse of $1 million. Like the Derby, the Oaks was first run in 1875, and they together remain the oldest annually contested sporting events in America, and 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 Oaks recieves a blanket of lillies - Lillies 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, and you can get in on the action and make your Kentucky Oaks picks with one of these online racebooks.
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 Hall of Fame careers and become multiple year-end champion fillies and mares. The list includes Silverbulletday, who was the Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in 1998 and repeated that feat in 1999, the year she won the Oaks. 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. More recently, Untapable won the race in 2014, and then took on older mares and won the 2014 Breeders' Cup Distaff, one her way to being named Champion Filly for the year.
Kentucky Oaks Racing Tips
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 the past two winners, Cathryn Sophia and Lovely Maria both using the Ashland as the prep for their Kentucky Oaks wins, so it's 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.
Untapable was the only one of the five most recent winners to go off as the favorite, while Princess of Sylmar (39-1) and Believe You Can (14-1) both won at double-digit odds.
Historically, one of the most dominent 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.
Just like the Kentucky Derby, 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.