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Kentucky Oaks 137 Update for Friday, March 4

Champion 2-year-old filly Awesome Feather heads a roster of 117 nominees to Kentucky Oaks 137, and five of those fillies - including Grade I winners A Z Warrior, Turbulent Descent and Zazu - meet in Saturday's Grade I Santa Anita Oaks.

| Churchill Downs | 03/04/2011 #

CHAMPION AWESOME FEATHER HEADS 117 FILLIES NOMINATED TO $1 MILLION KENTUCKY OAKS -- Awesome Feather, the unbeaten 2-year-old filly champion of 2010 and winner of the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (Grade I), heads a strong roster 117 fillies that are early nominees to compete for the record $1 million purse in the 137th running of the Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Awesome Feather was purchased by Stronach Stable for $2.3 million at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale just two days after her impressive 2 ¼-length Breeders’ Cup win at Churchill Downs that locked up her Eclipse Award for former owner and breeder, Fred Brei of Florida’s Jacks or Better Farm, and trainer Stanley Gold.  She was transferred to trainerChad Brown, but a reported tendon injury sent her to the sidelines. Awesome Feather, who has a perfect record in six races and earnings of, $1,495,746, is reported to be near a return to light training.

The 1 1/8-mile Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, is renewed annually on the eve of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).  Early nominations for the Oaks closed on Feb. 19, but Churchill Downs has, for the first time, instituted a late nomination period for the race, with those late nominations due – accompanied by a fee of $1,500 – by midnight (all times Eastern) on April 13.

Other stars nominated to Kentucky Oaks 137 include Grade I winners R Heat LightingTurbulent DescentZazu, Tell A Kelly, More Than Real and A Z Warrior, and rising stars Kathmanblu andDancinginherdreams. 

CALIFORNIA / SANTA ANITA OAKS FEATURES REMATCH OF ZAZU, TURBULENT DESCENT –  A field of five 3-year-old fillies has been assembled for Saturday’s $250,000 Santa Anita Oaks (GI), but most of the pre-race discussion is focused on a rematch of the 1-2 finishers in the recent Las Virgenes (GI).

Zazu handed Hollywood Starlet (GI) winner Turbulent Descent the first loss of her young career in that race and fans will be watching to see if the latter can avenge that setback, or whether the former is a rising star and a serious contender for the May 7 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.  The win by the John Sadler-trained Zazu was the first in three meetings with Turbulent Descent, who was racing on traditional dirt for the first time for trainer Mike Puype.

Adding to the Santa Anita Oaks intrigue is the presence of the Bob Baffert-trained A Z Warrior, winner of the Frizette (GI) at Belmont Park at two, but last behind champion Awesome Feather in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in her most recent start.  Baffert will also send Grade III winner May Day Rose into the race.

An interesting newcomer is Kilograeme, who is unbeaten in two starts for trainer Mike Mitchell.

“She’s a real sweetheart,” said Mitchell.  “Hopefully she continues to move forward, and she’ll have to in order to win Saturday because there are some decent fillies in the Oaks.”

California Chrome Cruises to Victory in 140th Kentucky Derby before Crowd of 164,906

Steven Coburn and Perry Martin's favored California Chrome, ridden by Victor Espinoza, took command at the head of the stretch en route to a 1 3/4-length victory over Commanding Curve to win the 140th running of the $2,202,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I). A sun-splashed crowd of 164,906, the second-largest attendance in Kentucky Derby history, watched California Chrome give jockey Victor Espinoza a second Derby victory to go with his triumph on War Emblem in 2002.

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