On May 6, Churchill Downs will host the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks. Some top contenders include undefeated 3-year-old filly Kathleen O., the Gulfstream Park Oaks winner, and the 2-year-old champion Echo Zulu.
Street Band, a horse that won the Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks earlier this month, has qualified for the Grade I Kentucky Oaks presented by Longines Street Band. This is his fourth win for trainer Larry Jones. He will be hoping to repeat his success in the race. Street Band’s trainer Larry Jones has a rich history in Kentucky, having won the race three times with Monomoy Girl. Meanwhile, Bob Baffert won the race with Abel Tasman in 2017 and has a horse entered in the race, Flor de Mar.
The race is a highlight of the Louisville sports calendar, and more than 100,000 people attend the races every year. The Kentucky Oaks is also the premier event for a fundraising drive for breast and ovarian cancer. In recent years, the race has raised over $740K for various breast cancer organizations.
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The four-year-old mare Maracuja is preparing for her first start at Oaklawn Park following a six-month freshening. The gray/roan daughter of Honor Code is making her first start on the dirt since finishing fourth in the GI Cotillion at Parx. She has never raced on the West Coast but has two wins at the graded stakes level.
Beach Haven Thoroughbreds’ Maracuja galloped 1 3/8 miles on Tuesday and is expected to gallop Wednesday morning. She arrived from Belmont Park Monday. Her trainer, Rob Atras, plans to train her. She is a daughter of the Honor Code and finished second in April’s Gazelle (GII). She has also drawn post fourteen in the Kentucky Oaks, where she is a 14-1 longshot.
This week’s Gulfstream Park Oaks is a critical step on the road to the Kentucky Oaks presented by Longines. This Grade 1 stakes race is only open to three-year-old fillies, and the winner will earn a garland of lilies and a Longines watch.
This race is worth $1.5 million, and the top three-year-old fillies from around the world will line up. It’s the eleventh race of the day, with post time scheduled for 5:51 p.m. ET.
Serengeti Empress, a 3-year-old daughter of Alternation, has won the $2 million Longines Kentucky Oaks in her most recent race. She has already qualified for the $165,000 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint and the $2 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
Serengeti Empress is a tough mare to beat, especially when she’s racing to win major stakes. She rode beautifully for Jose Ortiz, and trainer Tom Amoss trained her to perfection. The heavy favorite, Bellafina, finished well off the pace, and Flavien Prat could not make much of a breakthrough against Serengeti Empress. Positive Spirit, meanwhile, finished a distant seventh after clipping the hooves of another horse.
Bellafina, the 2-1 morning line favorite, is looking to add to her impressive resume by winning the Kentucky Oaks on May 3. The filly has won three straight races in smaller fields and was sent off as a strong favorite last week in the Santa Anita Oaks. She is ridden by Flavien Prat and has six wins and two seconds in her career. She is expected to arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday, and her trainer Simon Callaghan will be there on Wednesday.
The Kentucky Oaks is one of the richest races in the country, and Bellafina is the morning-line favorite. She will earn $705,520 if she wins. The filly has a strong past record, but she may have to beat her previous best – Bellafina – to win the Kentucky Oaks.