The roster of 3-year-old fillies eligible to compete in the 142nd running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) at Churchill Downs Racetrack has grown to 114 with the addition of Mike Tarp’s Go Maggie Go, the unbeaten winner of the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII), and J K Racing Stable’s Mokat, the California-based runner-up to champion unbeaten Songbird in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI), during the late phase of nominations to America’s premier race that closed on Wednesday, April 13.
Both fillies rank in the top 10 in the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” point system that will determine the participation in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies scheduled for Friday, May 6, the eve of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI).
The nominated fillies are bidding to succeed Brereton C. Jones’ Lovely Maria, who earned the traditional mantle of Stargazer Lilies when a record Kentucky Oaks Day crowd of 123,763 witnessed her victory in last year’s 141st running of the race. Lovely Maria provided her owner and trainer Larry Jones with their third Oaks triumphs, respectively, and gave veteran jockey Kerwin “Boo” Clark his first win in the race.
Total nominees for the 2016 Kentucky Oaks remain down from last year when 154 3-year-old fillies were made eligible during the early nomination phase and a pair of late nominations pushed the overall 2015 total to 156. Payment of $1,500 fee was required to make a 3-year-old filly eligible for the Kentucky Oaks during its just-concluded late nomination phase.
Go Maggie Go is a homebred daughter of Ghostzapper trained by Dale Romans who is unbeaten in two races during her young career. She scored an easy victory in her racing debut at Gulfstream on March 13 and returned on April 2 to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks by 2 ¼ lengths. She has earned $175,900 in her two races and is currently ranked sixth on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 100 points.
Mokat, a daughter of Uncle Mo trained by Richard Baltas, has performed well in a pair of runs in her last two starts against reigning 2-year-old filly champion Songbird that included a runner-up finish in the Santa Anita Oaks and a third-place run in the Santa Ysabel (GIII). She has a career record of 1-2-2 in seven races, all at Southern California tracks, with total earnings of $155,040. Mokat currently is ranked eighth on the Oaks Leaderboard with 50 points.
The Kentucky Oaks field is limited to 14 starters and up to four fillies can be designated as “also-eligible” to start. Eligibility to compete in the Oaks is determined by points amassed during the “Road to the Kentucky Oaks” point series. Should one of more fillies scratch from the Kentucky Oaks before 9 a.m. ET on the day of the race, a filly or fillies from the “also-eligible” list that possess the highest respective point totals would be allowed to take the open spot, or spots, in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate.
There is one more opportunity for members of this year’s crop of 3-year-old fillies to become eligible to compete in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks. That is through payment of a $30,000 supplementary nomination fee at the time of entry to the Kentucky Oaks on Tuesday, May 3.
A payment of $5,000 is required to enter the Oaks, and another $5,000 is required to start.
The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks is run each year on the eve of the Kentucky Derby and, like its partner race, has been run annually with interruption since the 1875 race meet at the historic track first known as the Louisville Jockey Club. The Oaks has grown to be the centerpiece of spectacular day that celebrates fashion, food, celebrity and fun that features a focus on women’s health issues and outreach. Churchill Downs and national charity partner Bright Pink® join forces on Oaks Day to promote breast cancer and ovarian health outreach. Along with its renewal of its main event, Kentucky Oaks Day 2016 also will feature the eighth annual renewal of the emotional Survivors Parade Presented by Kroger – an on-track, pre-race parade featuring 142 cancer survivors – along with the popular tradition of the “Pink Out,” in which all Oaks Day attendees are encouraged to incorporate the color pink into their Oaks Day attire.
The 142nd running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks will be televised live on NBCSN.