The first running of the Kentucky Oaks was on May 19, 1875 when Churchill Downs was known as the Louisville Jockey Club. It also happened to be the same year that another famous race tradition began, The Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Oaks is a race strictly for 3 yr. old fillies run on the Friday before Derby Day. Today the prize has grown to a half a million dollars and the lily garland of flowers known as “lilies for the fillies”. Because of it’s close proximity to the Derby, the Oaks draws over 100,000 to Churchill Downs. Most derby revelers spend both days enjoying the sites, sounds and action that goes with this mad weekend in Louisville.
If you are planning on attending the Oaks, be aware that you can wear any color this year as long as it’s PINK. And the drink for the day is called an “Oaks Lily”:
* 1 oz. Vodka
* 1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
* 3 oz. Cranberry Juice
* Splash of Triple Sec
When the ingredients are mixed, place the pinkish cocktail in an official Oaks Lily® glass (stem-less wine glass) with crushed ice, add a straw and garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.
The Oaks have become a locals favorite since so many out-of-towners crowd the city for the weekend. This is their chance to have their own special “day at the races”.
REPOSTED BY REQUEST
To say that Keeneland’s races are hard to handicap or calculate, or that winning there, from a bettors point of view, with any consistency is about average are both extreme understatements. There are more variables at Keeneland Race Track than there are loosing tickets laying on the concrete down by the rail after the ninth race.
Keeneland’s schedule is so short that horses are coming and going all the time in the barn area. At most, horses will race only once while at Keeneland and only a handful will race two times. The vast majority of horses are flown in or trucked in for the few days preceding the race and maybe a couple days afterward, but it’s just for the one race. And where are they coming from? Everywhere!
On any given day you can go down the list of entrants in a random race and see a compilation of venues that could make one think they’re reading a Travel Log of Great American Race Tracks. And every one of those tracks has it’s own personality, it’s own variables like density and feel of the turf or dirt which makes comparing very difficult. And raises questions like, “Is a mile at 1:39 at Saratoga faster or slower than that same 1:39 mile at Arlington?” And to make matters worse, most of these dirt runners have limited experience with Keeneland’s poly track or any artificial surface for that matter. And some are going to benefit and some are not, but which one? Only the horses know for sure and they’re not talkin’.
Another factor is the size of the field. Keeneland, in most cases, has a full field of 9 to12 horses. Many would say that diminishes the bettors chance of winning. However, I believe that it works to the handicappers advantage in that those extra horses add to the pot for the winner. It’s not unusual at Keeneland to bet on a 4-1ML and collect $20 on a $2 bet because most of the money drifted elsewhere.
And jockeys, trainers and owners, oh my! In Keeneland’s 18 day meet there is little time to catch jockeys or trainers on a winning streak or see the development of a jockey/trainer combo to help give the bettor an edge. And, because the Keeneland fall meet is so close to the Breeders’ Cup and to Churchill Downs’ fall meet, many jockeys and trainers are heading north to Louisville to get settled in even before Keeneland is officially over. And before you know it, “You are seeing names of jockeys you aint never seen before!”
To help prove my point about the difficult nature of Keeneland’s races I pulled up a study that appeared in the DRF earlier this year and the two major tracks with the least number of favorites winning are Del Mar and Keeneland. These tracks showed about a 30% win result for favorites. Whereas, Suffolk, Lone Star and River Downs, with meets almost 3 times as long, are at a whopping 42% win rate. Despite the difficulty I wouldn’t change a thing about Keeneland and I accept it as the ultimate challenge that it is.
There are a couple of sure bets at Keeneland and both pay off handsomely. One is that they will never run out of good Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey. And the other sure bet is that they will serve you the most delicious Bread Pudding you will ever taste.