- Road to the Kentucky Derby
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Arienza, St. John's River Among Late Nominees to $1 Million Oaks
A trio of 3-year-old fillies headed by Robert and Lawana Low’s Arienza, runner-up to Joyful Victory in Oaklawn Park’s Fantasy (Grade II), and Dede McGehee’s Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) runner-up St. John’s River make up the roster of late nominees that are now eligible to compete in the 137th running of the $1 million guaranteed Kentucky Oaks (GI) on Friday, May 6 at Churchill Downs.
The three fillies were made eligible to run in America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies during its first late nomination period that raised the total of Oaks nominations to 120. The 117 original nominees to the 1 1/8-mile Oaks became eligible through the payment of a $200 fee on or before the Feb. 19 early nomination deadline. The late nomination period, which ended April 13, required payment of a $1,500 fee. Supplemental entries to the Kentucky Oaks, which would require payment of a $50,000 fee, will be accepted at the time of entry on Tuesday, May 3.
The record purse for the 137th Kentucky Oaks doubles last year’s $500,000 value for the historic race that is now the richest race for 3-year-old fillies in the United States. The Kentucky Oaks is renewed each year on the eve of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), America’s greatest race. Both races have been run annually without interruption since their debut during the first Churchill Downs race meet in May 1875.
The 2011 Kentucky Oaks will be televised live from 5-6 p.m. on NBC’s VERSUS cable network.
Churchill Downs and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, will continue their unique partnership to raise funds for breast cancer awareness and research through Kentucky Oaks Day activities for a third consecutive year. A “Ladies First” theme will be in place for Oaks 137, and those attending the spectacular Oaks Day racing program are urged to join in this year’s “Pink Out” and incorporate the Komen’s signature pink into their attire for the day. The “Pink Out” is designed to raise awareness of Komen for the Cure, the world leader in funding for breast cancer research, education, advocacy and community support programs.
Arienza, a daughter of European champion Giant’s Causeway out of 2002 American Horse of the Year Azeri, possesses one of the most compelling pedigrees in American racing. She scored impressive victories in her first two starts at Oaklawn Park for trainer Dan Pietz before her runner-up finish last Sunday in the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy.
St. John’s River, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Include, established her Kentucky Oaks credentials when she rallied from eighth to finish a close second to Daisy Devine in the $500,000 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 26. She has a record of 1-2-1 in four starts for trainer Andrew Leggio Jr.
The list of late nominees to the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies is rounded out by Right Time Racing LLC’s Street Storm, winner of the $60,000 Mardi Gras, a mile and 70 yard event that was moved from turf to the main track at Fair Grounds on March 8. The daughter of Stormy Atlantic is trained by Churchill Downs-based Steve Margolis.
Churchill Downs also conducted its first late nomination period for the $500,000-added Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) and added six accomplished names to the roster of horses eligible for the Silver Anniversary running of the 1 1/8-mile grass test for 3-year-olds and up.
The late nominees include a pair of European stars from the powerhouse stable of Irish training champion Aidan O’Brien in Group One winners Cape Blanco (IRE) and Jan Vermeer (IRE). U.S.-based stars nominated to the Woodford Reserve include IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stables’ multiple Grade I winner Court Vision, who has finished second and third in two previous bids for the Kentucky Derby Day fixture, and Patricia Bozano’s Fluke (BRZ), winner of the Frank Kilroe Mile (GI) at Santa Anita on March 5.
The turf stars made eligible during the late nomination phase lifted total nominees to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic to 85, four more than its 2010 nomination total. A fee of $100 was required to nominate a horse to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic during its early phase, which closed Feb. 19. The late nomination period, which closed April 13, required a $1,000 nomination fee. Supplemental nominations can still be made at the time of entry on Wednesday, May 4 for a fee of $25,000. The Woodford Reserve Turf Classic is limited to 14 starters.
Cape Blanco (IRE), a 4-year-old son of Galileo with six wins in 10 races and career earnings of $2,588,768, won the Irish Champion (Group I) and Irish Derby (GI) at three and finished a close fourth to Japan’s Victoire Pisa in his 2011 debut in the $10 million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup (GI) Meydan Racecourse. Jan Vermeer (IRE) enjoyed Group One success at two with a win in the Criterium International at France’s Saint-Cloud and faced many of Europe’s top stars in 2010. He ran fourth to Workforce in the Investec Epsom Derby (GI), third to his stablemate in the Irish Derby (GI) and third to Bekhabad last July in the Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (GI) at Longchamp on July 10. The son of Montjeu has won three of seven races with earnings of $604,008.
Court Vision narrowly missed winning the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic in 2010 when he dropped a neck decision to owner-trainer Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters. The 6-year-old son of Gulch finished third to Einstein in the 2009 renewal. He enjoyed a strong 2010 that included Grade I wins in the $1 million Woodbine Mile and Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap (via disqualification), and ran fourth to European superstar Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) at Churchill Downs. He has a record of 8-4-4 in 26 races with earnings of $2,606,521.
Fluke, a 6-year-old son of Wild Event trained by Humberto Ascanio, is unbeaten in two starts this year as his win in the Grade I Kilroe Mile followed a triumph in the Thunder Road (GIII) at Santa Anita. He also won Hollywood Park’s Citation (GI) in 2009 and has a career record of 7-6-0 in 16 races with earnings of $637,948.
Other late nominees to the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic include the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Appleton (GIII) runner-up Riviera Cocktail and Formulaforsuccess, an allowance winner on the Keeneland turf in 2010.