One of the most anticipated stake races, the Kentucky Oaks has enthralled millions since its inauguration in 1875. The Thoroughbred race, featuring three year old female horses or fillies, draws over hundred thousand people each year. The Oaks takes place annually on the first Friday of May. The race is staged just before the grander Kentucky Derby. This season, the Oaks will once again be held in Louisville at the Churchill Downs. With a purse of one million dollars and first prize of six hundred thousand dollars, the event attracts top lilies and jockeys from all around North America.
The race was initially founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. Clark had built the Louisville Jockey Club (that later became the Churchill Downs) to provide superior racing facilities in the region. The Oaks was established by Clark along with other celebrated annual races including the Falls City Handicap, Clark Handicap and the Kentucky Derby. The inaugural race was held on May 19 in 1875 and covered a distance of 1.5 mile with a winning purse of over a thousand dollars. The race was won by the horse Vinaigrette along with jockey J. Houston.
Attendance and Other Records
Due to its high attendance, the Kentucky Oaks has become a highly distinguished race in the US horse racing circuit. By 1980, the event was attracting around fifty thousand people and after almost a decade the attendance number reached sixty seven thousand. Since 2001, the racing event has hosted over hundred thousand people annually, making Oaks the third in attendance, trailing behind the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Oaks along with the Acorn Stakes and the Black Eyed Susan Stakes are a counterpart to the US Triple Crown races that include the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. The most recent 2013 Kentucky Oaks was won by jockey Mike E. Smith while ridging Princess of Sylmar.
The Live Atmosphere
Despite the alarming increase of non-local guests at the Kentucky Oaks, the race is still believed to be a local affair by the residents of Louisville metropolitan area. The event is enjoyed by the locals as they come together to witness one of the oldest races as well as indulge in its rich culture and traditions. The event also features numerous attractions such as musical shows, games and delicious delicacy. The day of the race is often treated as a festive holiday by many schools and business around the area.
The Kentucky Oaks tickets are always in huge demand every year. Thousands of fans try to reserve their seats before the racing event. The race attracts people of all ages, making it a highly memorable event for the entire family. This season, the event is once again expected to allure masses from every corner of the continent. So make sure to be a part of this memorable journey along with your friends and family.