early nomination deadline is fast approaching for owners and trainers
who are pointing young racing stars in their care to the 139th
running of the $1 million-guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (Grade I), America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies on Friday, May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Early nominations to the Kentucky Oaks – the 1 1/8-mile companion race to the famed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) are due by 11:59 p.m. (all times Eastern) on Saturday, Feb. 23. Each early
nomination must be accompanied by payment of a fee of $200.
Nominations also close on Saturday, Feb. 23 for the 28th running of the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI),
one of America’s most important races for older horses
on grass scheduled for Kentucky Derby Day, Saturday, May 4. The 1
1/8-mile race for 4-year-olds and up on Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf
Course is traditionally run immediately prior to the main event on the
Derby Day racing and wagering menu.
The Kentucky Oaks is run each
year on the eve of the Kentucky Derby and, like its companion event,
has been contested each year without interruption since its first
running in 1875. The race is limited to 14 3-year-old
fillies, with up to four fillies designated as “also eligible” to start.
Eligibility for the race will be determined for the first time by the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” point system.
Kentucky Oaks will be televised live from 5-6 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network
Horsemen can nominate horses by contacting Kelly Danner
with Churchill Downs Racing via telephone at (502) 638-3825
or online at Kelly.Danner@KyDerby.com
Nominations can also be made via fax at (502) 636-4598
. Nomination forms for the Kentucky Oaks and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic are available online at www.churchilldowns.com
director of racing at Churchill Downs, will be in south Florida through
Saturday to solicit nominations. Other agents dispatched to accept
nominations are Sandy Montgomery
Park) and Gene Williams
(Southern California). Meanwhile, Scott Jones
and Tia Murphy
will accept nominations at Fair Grounds and Turfway Park, respectively.
The 2012 renewal of the Kentucky Oaks won by Brereton C. Jones’
homebred Believe You Can was historic on several levels. A crowd of 112,552 – the second-largest in the history of the race – cheered as jockey Rosie
Napravnik became the first woman to ride a Kentucky Oaks winner. Believe You Can was trained by Larry Jones, a
native of Hopkinsville, Ky., who saddled the Jones homebred Proud Spell to win the 2008 Oaks.
A late nomination period for
Kentucky Oaks 139 will open on Sunday, Feb. 24 and continue through
Wednesday, April 10. Nomination of any 3-year-old filly to the race
during that period will require payment of a fee
of $1,500. There will be one final opportunity to make a filly eligible
for the Kentucky Oaks through a supplemental nomination process that
requires payment of a $30,000 fee at the time of entry to the 2013
Kentucky Oaks on Tuesday, April 30.
The 2012 running of the Oaks attracted 94 original nominations and a trio for late nominees for a final total of 97.
Her Kentucky Oaks victory was
the 2012 highlight for Believe You Can, who was one of three finalists
for the Eclipse Award earned by Questing that honored America’s outstanding 3-year-old filly. Plum Pretty,
the 2011 Oaks winner, also was a finalist for the Eclipse Award earned by Royal Delta.
won the Kentucky Oaks in 2010 to conclude a streak of four consecutive
Kentucky Oaks winners to earn the Eclipse Award for champion 3-year-old
filly. That streak of champions included Rachel
(2009), Proud Spell
(2008) and Rags to Riches
(2007). Rachel Alexandra and Rags to Riches defeated males in Triple
Crown races in their subsequent starts, with the former defeating
Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird
Preakness (GI) on her way to Horse of the Year
honors, and Rags to Riches edged eventual two-time Horse of the Year Curlin
in a dramatic renewal of the Belmont Stakes (GI).
Other stars who won the Kentucky Oaks on their way Eclipse Award 3-year-old filly championship honors include Ashado
(2004), Bird Town
(’03), Farda Amiga
(’99), Open Mind
(’89), Tiffany Lass
(’86), Davona Dale
(’79) and Susan’s Girl
(’72). Fillies that failed to win the Oaks but earned championship
honors at the conclusion of their 3-year-old seasons include Wait A While
in ’06), Banshee Breeze
in ’98), Go for Wand
in ’90) and Wayward Lass
also are accepted for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic. Those
nominations require payment of a $1,000 fee by the late nomination
deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10
nominations to the race may be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, May 1 and require payment of a $15,000 fee
. The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is limited to 14 starters.
The 2012 renewal of the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic was won by Priscilla Vaccarezza’s
6-year-old gelding Little Mike, who would go on to win the Arlington Million (GI) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) in a remarkable campaign that earned the Dale
Romans-trained star status as finalist for the Eclipse Awards for best turf male and best older horse.
Last year’s race attracted 61 early nominations and four late nominees.
Reserve Turf Classic has attracted many of America’s most accomplished
grass stars since reigning Eclipse Award turf champion Manila
won its first running in 1987. Manila had won the
Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) in 1986, defeating such luminaries as Theatrical
and European star Dancing Brave
in that effort. Other American turf champions that have competed in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic include Paradise
, winner of the Turf Classic during his 1994 championship campaign, and 1992 Eclipse Award turf champion Sky Classic
, runner-up to Cudas
in that year’s Turf Classic renewal. Einstein
won the 2008 and 2009 runnings and is the only
two-time Woodford Reserve winner in its 26-year history. The versatile Brazilian-bred son of 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck
was a finalist for the Eclipse Award for top older male in each of those years and a finalist for turf champion in 2008.