A new attendance record crowd of 116,046, up 11 percent over last year, watched Blind Luck battle down the stretch to defeat Evening Jewel in the 136th running Kentucky Oaks.
All sources wagering on the Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old-fillies, was $10.6 million, a 55 percent increase over the 2009 total. All sources wagering on the 2010 Kentucky Oaks Day card was $36 million, a 20 percent increase over the 2009 total, and the all-time record.
The 136th Kentucky Oaks race was broadcast on national television in a special one-hour program on NBC’s sister cable network, Bravo. Last year, the Kentucky Oaks was broadcast on Bravo for the first time and the telecast saw an increase in the female portion of the viewing audience from 21 percent to 49 percent. This year’s telecast featured exclusive, behind-the-scenes racing features, as well as the food, fashion and celebrity experience associated with Kentucky Oaks Day.
The 136th Kentucky Oaks incorporated a day of special events to raise funds for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and First Lady Jane Beshear’s initiative, “Horses & Hope”, which included an unforgettable Survivors Parade and an impressive ‘pink out’ among race fans. Churchill Downs is donating $1 for every person who attended the Kentucky Oaks to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and is also donating $1 from the sale of each Oak Lily drink sold, the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks. The Survivors Parade was comprised of 136 breast cancer survivors who led the procession of the Kentucky Oaks Race fillies from the backside of the track to the saddling paddock before the start of their race. The Survivors walked to the music of Candy Coburn, who serenaded them with her hit song “Pink Warrior”.
“We are very pleased by the overwhelming response of our fans today. We have been working hard over the last couple of years to redefine our product, to change what racing means to the general public and to attract new fans to racing,” track president Kevin Flanery said, “so it’s gratifying to see the kind of progress we saw at last night’s sold-out inaugural ‘Taste of Derby’ event, and at today’s 136th Kentucky Oaks. The early evidence suggests we can grow racing’s fan base and revenue streams if we focus on delivering a unique and quality entertainment experience that customers really want. The efforts of our racing office and horsemen to put on a great race card resulted in record all sources handle for the day, and the stretch battle between Evening Jewel and the Oaks winner Blind Luck is an instant classic. Clearly our efforts to broaden the Kentucky Oaks Day experience paid off as a record crowd of 116,048 saw Blind Luck’s thrilling victory.”
Churchill Downs returned $29.4 million to bettors, which amounts to 82 percent of total wagering. Blind Luck, owned by Mark DeDomenico, John Carver, Peter Abruzzo and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, is Hollendorfer's third as a trainer and second as a co-owner. He won the Oaks in 1991 with Lite Light, and again in 1996 with Pike Place Dancer. Blind Luck, with jockey Rafael Bejarano up, paid $4.60, $3.60 and $2.80.