The list of early nominations for the 137th Kentucky Oaks has been released and the name atop the list is no surprise. Awesome Feather, the unbeaten winner of the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Fillies heads a field of 117 fillies nominated to race for the $1,000,000 Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6, 2011 at Churchill Downs.
Despite the impressive accomplishments of Awesome Feather, she’s been going through a lot of transition since her win including an ownership sale, a trainer change and a tendon injury. She was acquired by the Stronach Stable for $2.3 million(US) days after her impressive 2 ¼-length Breeders’ Cup win at Churchill Downs. The victory earned her the Eclipse Award for ‘Best Juvenile Filly’ which went to former owner and breeder, Fred Brei of Florida’s Jacks or Better Farm, and trainer Stanley Gold. Her training has since been transferred to Chad Brown, but she’s reportedly been out of action with a training injury. Awesome Feather is ready to return to light training, which will put her on a very tight timetable to regain fitness in time for the Kentucky Oaks.
Top fillies among the entries nominated for the Kentucky Oaks include Grade 1 winners R Heat Lighting, Turbulent Descent, Zazu, Tell A Kelly, More Than Real and A Z Warrior, along with highly touted prospects Kathmanblu and Dancinginherdreams.
The Kentucky Oaks is the traditional prelude to the Kentucky Derby and considered to be among the most prestigious competitions for three year old fillies. Early nominations for the Oaks closed on Februay 19, but Churchill Downs has instituted a late nomination period for the race. Late nominations accompanied by a fee of $1,500 will be accepted through midnight on April 13.
With the public notoriety of fillies Rachel Alexandra (2009 Eclipse Horse of the Year) and Zenyatta (2010 Eclipse Horse of the Year), the Kentucky Oaks has become a much higher profile event among the general public. The aforementioned Rachel Alexandra won the 2009 Kentucky Oaks, with the 2010 race won by Blind Luck with jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard.
The Kentucky Oaks will be televised nationally in the United States on the Versus cable network from 5:00 PM Eastern to 6:00 PM Eastern on May 6, 2011. The Kentucky Derby card will be broadcast on NBC the following day.