Five Grade I winners plus the best 3-year-old fillies of 2015 from South Florida and New Orleans make up part of a deep field of 14 fillies and one also-eligible entered today for Friday’s 141st running of the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) at Churchill Downs.
The Oaks will go as the 11th race on Friday’s 12-race program that begins at 10:30 a.m. ET. Post time for the Oaks is 5:49 p.m. The winner of the race will collect $564,200.
Coming off Grade I victories into the Oaks are Hronis Racing’s Stellar Wind, the morning-line favorite at 7-2, and Brereton Jones’ Lovely Maria.
Trained by John Sadler, Stellar Wind won the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) by 5 ¼ lengths in her most recent start and brings a 4-3-0-1 record into the Oaks. Victor Espinoza, who has been aboard for the filly’s past two starts, has the mount Friday and will break from post position 12.
Lovely Maria, the fourth choice on the line at 5-1, won the Ashland (GI) at Keeneland in her most recent start and will partnered in the Oaks by regular pilot Kerwin Clark and break from position seven.
Lovely Maria is trained by Larry Jones, who also will saddle I’m a Chatterbox for Fletcher and Carolyn Gray. Jones has won the Oaks twice and both times for owner Brereton Jones with victories in 2008 with Proud Spell and 2012 with Believe You Can.
I’m a Chatterbox, co-second choice on the morning line at 4-1, swept the Fair Grounds series for 3-year-old fillies by taking the Silverbulletday, Rachel Alexandra (GIII) and Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) by a combined 13 lengths. Florent Geroux was aboard for all three victories and will ride Friday, breaking from post position eight.
Brereton Jones also owns Fantasy (GIII) winner Include Betty in partnership with Timothy Thornton. Trained by Tom Proctor, Include Betty will be ridden by Rosemary Homeister Jr. and break from post position three.
Other Grade I fillies in the field are Condo Commando and Angela Renee. Qatar Racing’s Peace and War, winner of last fall’s Alcibiades at Keeneland, is the race’s also-eligible.
Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group’s Condo Commando has won five of six career starts including a score in last summer’s Spinaway (GI) at Saratoga. Joel Rosario, who rode Condo Commando to victory in the Gazelle (GII) in her most recent start, has the mount Friday and will break from post position five. She is the co-second choice on the morning line at 4-1.
Siena Farm’s Angela Renee won the Chandelier (GI) last fall at Santa Anita and most recently was second to Lovely Maria in the Ashland. She is one of two fillies in the race for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also will send out StarLadies Racing’s Eskenformoney.
Pletcher is seeking his fourth victory in the Oaks having won previously with Ashado (2004), Rags to Riches (2007) and Princess of Sylmar (2013).
John Velazquez, who lone Oaks victory came on Ashado, has the mount on Angela Renee and break from post position six. Javier Castellano will ride Eskenformoney and break from post position four.
The dominant filly from Gulfstream Park this year is Forum Racing’s Birdatthewire. Trained by Dale Romans, Birdatthewire won the Forward Gal (GII) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) and was second in the Davona Dale (GII).
Irad Ortiz Jr., who was aboard for the two Gulfstream victories, has the mount Friday and will break from post position 13.
In addition to Velazquez, three other riders will be trying to add to their Oaks win totals.
Two-time winner Gary Stevens (Tiffany Lass, 1986 and Silverbulletday, 1999) has the mount on Joe Ragsdale’s Sarah Sis for trainer Ingrid Mason.
Rafael Bejarano (Blind Luck, 2010) has the mount on Gary and Mary West’s Oceanwave for trainer Wayne Catalano and Mike Smith (Princess of Sylmar, 2013), will ride Forever Unbridled for Dallas Stewart.
Stewart as well as Steve Asmussen will be looking to add to their Oaks victory totals.
Stewart won with Lemons Forever, the dam of Forever Unbridled, in 2006. Asmussen won with Summerly in 2005 and last year with Untapable.
The field for the 141st Longines Kentucky Oaks from the rail out with rider and morning-line odds: Forever Unbridled (Mike Smith, 15-1), Shook Up (Robby Albarado, 30-1), Include Betty (Rosemary Homeister Jr., 20-1), Esekenformoney (Javier Castellano, 20-1), Condo Commando (Joel Rosario, 4-1), Angela Renee (John Velazquez, 15-1), Lovely Maria (Kerwin Clark, 5-1), I’m a Chatterbox (Florent Geroux, 4-1), Money’soncharlotte (Paco Lopez, 50-1), Oceanwave (Rafael Bejarano, 30-1), Sarah Sis (Gary Stevens, 30-1), Stellar Wind (Victor Espinoza, 7-2), Birdatthewire (Irad Ortiz Jr., 6-1) and Puca (Junior Alvarado, 15-1). Also-eligible: Peace and War (Julien Leparoux, 50-1). All starters will carry 121 pounds.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN), which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 2, 2015. The track’s 2015 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 25-June 27. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.ChurchillDowns.com.