Nancy Mazzoni’s She Be Wild, winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade I) and the champion 2-year-old filly of 2009, and Mark DeDomenico LLC, John Carver and Jerry Hollendorfer’s three-time Grade I winner Blind Luck head an impressive roster 143 3-year-old fillies nominated to compete in Churchill Downs’’ 136th running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).
America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies is scheduled for Friday, April 30 and will be televised live the Bravo Network in partnership with its parent company, NBC Universal. For the second straight year the Kentucky Oaks will partner with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, to raise funds to aid in breast cancer awareness and research through events on Kentucky Oaks Day.
Like the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), run the following day at the historic track, the Kentucky Oaks has been renewed each year without interruption since 1875 when the first racing meet was held at Churchill Downs, then known as the Louisville Jockey Club. Nominations to the Kentucky Oaks closed on Feb. 13, and required a nomination fee of $100. Supplemental nominations to the race will be accepted at the time of entry on Tuesday, April 28, for a fee of $25,000. The field for the Kentucky Oaks is restricted to 14 fillies. If a greater number of fillies should be entered, preference will be given to the fillies that have accumulated the highest earnings in graded stakes races.
Last year’s running of the Kentucky Oaks was one of the most memorable in the long history of the 1 1/8-mile race as L & M Partners LLC’s odds-on favorite Rachel Alexandra rolled to a record 20 ¼-length victory under jockey Calvin Borel, who would win the Kentucky Derby 24 hours later aboard 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro went on to defeat the Derby winner and other males two weeks later in the Preakness (GI), the second jewel of the Triple Crown. It was one of three defeats she would deal males during a 2009 campaign that earned Rachel Alexandra Eclipse Award honors as Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old filly.
The Kentucky Oaks 136 nomination total is down from the 170 fillies nominated to the race a year ago. A record 192 fillies were made eligible for the race in 2007.
Rachel Alexandra was the third consecutive winner of the Kentucky Oaks to be named that year’s champion 3-year-old filly, and the second in three years to defeat males in one of the classic Triple Crown races. Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Rags to Riches won the 2007 Oaks and would go on to score an historic victory over eventual “Horse of the Year” Curlin and other males in the Belmont Stakes (GI), the third jewel of racing’s Triple Crown. She was the first filly in a century to win the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion.” Brereton C. Jones’ Proud Spell, a homebred daughter of Proud Citizen, won the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old following her Oaks victory in 2008.
Other recent stars who won the Kentucky Oaks on their way to 3-year-old championship honors include Ashado (2004), Bird Town (’03), Farda Amiga (’02), Silverbulletday (’99), Open Mind (’89), and Tiffany Lass (’86). Fillies that failed to win the Oaks but went on to earn Eclipse Award championship honors at the conclusion of their 3-year-old seasons include Wait A While (3rd in 2006), Banshee Breeze (2nd in ’98), and Go for Wand (2nd in 1990).
The Wayne Catalano-trained She Be Wild wrapped up championship honors at two with her three-quarter length victory in the Breeders Cup event over synthetic Pro-Ride at Santa Anita. She also won the Arlington-Washington Lassie (GIII) at Arlington Park and finished second to Sovereign Stable’s Negligee, another Kentucky Oaks nominee, in the Alcibiades (GI) at Keeneland. Blind Luck, a daughter of Pollard’s Vision trained by co-owner Hollendorfer, opened her 3-year-old campaign with a narrow victory in the Las Virgenes (GI) at Santa Anita. It was the third Grade I win for Blind Luck, who also won the Hollywood Starlet and the Oak Leaf at two. She finished third behind She Be Wild in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Other stars of the 3-year-old filly crop nominated to the 2010 Kentucky Oaks include Peter Callahan’s Beautician and Brereton C. Jones’ Biofuel, the second and fourth place finishes in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies; Frizette (GI) winner Devil May Care; Jerry Romans Jr.’s Sassy Image, winner of Churchill Downs Golden Rod (GII) and Iroquois (GIII); Grace Stable’s Hot Dixie Chick, winner of Saratoga’s Spinaway (GI) and Schuylerville (GIII); Westrock Stables Decelerator, winner of Churchill Downs’ Debutante (GIII) and the recent Honeybee at Oaklawn Park; Lori and George Hall’s Forward Gal (GII) winner Bickersons; Mark Stanley’s Delta Princess (GIII) winner Quiet Temper; Silverbulletday (GIII) and Tiffany Lass winner Jody Slew; IEAH Stables and Whizaway Stables Santa Ynez (GII) winner Amen Hallelujah; C R K Stables’ Switch, who finished third in the Las Virgenes; Starlight Stable’s Ailalea, winner of the Tempted (GIII); Michael Talla’s Crisp, winner of the Santa Ysabel (GIII); and Tom and Marilyn Braley’s Evening Jewel, the Santa Ysabel runner-up.
Promising fillies yet to enjoy stakes wins on the list include Michael Imperio and Kona Stable, LLC’s Christine Daae; Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss’ Cozy Rosie; Juddmonte Farm’s Comic Marvel; Edward Evans Mambo Fever; and Phipps Stable’s Protesting.
Biofuel and Negligee shared the Sovereign Award that honored Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2009.
Two-time Kentucky Oaks winner Todd Pletcher, who won the race with Rags to Riches and Ashado, nominated a dozen fillies to the Oaks to lead all trainers. Four-time Oaks winner D. Wayne Lukas, Ken McPeek and John Sadler each nominated six fillies. Westrock Stables nominated four fillies to lead all owners.