Garland of Lilies

Lilies for Our Filly

The first floral garland for the Kentucky Oaks winner was presented to Kathleen, the winner of the 1916 Oaks. It was made of roses, not the stargazer lilies that have become synonymous with the 3-year-old fillies race today.

Though every Oaks' winner since Kathleen received a garland of flowers, the stargazer lily did not become the official flower of the Kentucky Oaks until 1991, when the Kroger Company was commissioned to create a feminine garland for the fillies who contested the Kentucky Derby’s sister race. Lite Light, winner of the 117th Kentucky Oaks, was the first filly to receive the garland of lilies.

The stargazer lily was selected for its femininity and strength. A total of 133 

lilies are sewn into a white moiré fabric backing with a fleur-de-lis pattern, which, like the green satin of the Kentucky Derby garland, is embroidered in white-on-white with the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s seal at one end and Churchill Downs’ Twin Spires and the number of the race’s renewal at the other. The garland of lilies is trimmed with a dramatic border of oak ivy leaves, also symbolic of the Oaks event.

The public can view the construction of the lily garland at a local Kroger store on Oaks' Eve.Kroger is the official florist of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.