While the Kentucky Derby has long captured the interest of the sporting public, even that of people who infrequently pay attention to horse racing, the Kentucky Oaks, run the day before the Derby for 3-year-old fillies, seldom garners the same sort of attention.
The Oaks field tops out at 14, six horses fewer than the Derby, and highlights the Friday card at Churchill Downs, which last year was attended by 113,071 people. That’s far below last year’s Derby crowd of 164,906, but far more people than attend most sporting events in the U.S.
The Oaks seldom turns out the fluky winner that emerges from the Derby every once in a while; its winning alumnae often go on to other significant victories and championships. A sampling:
2014 winner Untapable won three of her four races last year after winning the Oaks, including the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, and was named champion 3-year-filly.
2011 winner Plum Pretty won two graded stakes after her Oaks victory and sold the following year for $4.2 million.
2010 winner Blind Luck ran 11 races after winning the Oaks, finishing first or second in 10 of them. An $11,000 purchase as a yearling, she sold for $2.5 million 18 months after her Oaks victory.
2009 winner Rachel Alexandra crushed the field by more than 20 lengths and then dominated both male and female horses for the rest of the year, beating males in both the Haskell and the Woodward en route to becoming the first 3-year-old filly in more than 50 years to be named Horse of the Year.
2007 winner Rags to Riches returned to the races a month later to become the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont Stakes.
NBC Sports Channel will broadcast this year’s $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks. Coverage from Churchill Downs begins at 12:30 pm and will include seven races, leading up to the Oaks, with a post time of 5:49 pm.
Continue reading at Forbes.com…
Image: Stellar Wind and Victor Espinoza at Santa Anita. Benoit photo.