Kentucky Oaks

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The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies staged annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States. The race currently covers 1⅛ miles (1811 m) at Churchill Downs; the horses carry 121 pounds (54.9 kg). The Kentucky Oaks is held on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby each year. The winner gets a $500,000 purse and a large garland of lilies, affectionately called the "Lillies for the Fillies." A silver Kentucky Oaks Trophy is presented to the winner.

Contents

History

The first running of the Kentucky Oaks was on May 19, 1875 when Churchill Downs was known as the Louisville Jockey Club.[1] The race was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. along with the Kentucky Derby, the Clark Handicap, and the Falls City Handicap.[2] The Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in history, and the only horse races to be held at their original site since its conception.[2] The Kentucky Oaks was modeled after the British Epsom Oaks. In the first race, the horse Vinaigrette won the then 1½ mile race in a time of 2:39¾, winning a purse of $1,175. Since that race the Kentucky Oaks has been held each year.

The Kentucky Oaks is considered by some to be among the most popular horse races in American horse-racing society due to its high attendance. It attracts about 100,000 people in attendance a year since 2001's 127th running of the Kentucky Oaks.[3] In 1980 it was about 50,000 people and by 1989, it had reached about 67,000 people.[1] The attendance at the Kentucky Oaks ranks third in the continent and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders' Cup. The attendance of the Kentucky Oaks typically only trails the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, for more information see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events.

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