A strong mix of accomplished stars headed by major stakes performers Grace Hall and On Fire Baby as well as Eden’s Moon, Princess Arabella and Mamma Kimbo comprise the list of 94 3-year-old fillies nominated to compete in the 138th running of the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 4 at Churchill Downs.
America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies is run each year on the eve of the Kentucky Derby, its companion race for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds. The 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks is the richest event in the 3-year-old filly division and offers a purse of $1 million-guaranteed for the second consecutive year. The purse was doubled last year from its previous value of $500,000-added.
The Kentucky Oaks will be televised live on the new NBC Sports Network from 5-6 p.m. (Eastern).
Missing from the list of 2012 Kentucky Oaks nominees is unbeaten 2-year-old filly champion My Miss Aurelia, who has been sidelined with a shin injury since her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs.
Grace Hall chased My Miss Aurelia home as the runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, but had become an established star earlier in her 2-year-old season when the Tony Dutrow-trained daughter of Empire Maker won the Grade I Spinaway at Saratoga. She opened her 3-year-old season with a narrow loss to fellow Oaks nominee Yara as the heavy favorite in the Grade II Davona Dale at Gulfstream Park. Grace Hall has a career record of 3-2-0 in five races with earnings of $629,000.
Anita Cauley’s homebred On Fire Baby captured the Grade III Pocahontas and Grade II Golden Rod last fall at Churchill Downs. The gray daughter of Smoke Glacken started her 3-year-old season with a third-place finish to Junebugred when she faced males in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Trained by Churchill Downs-based veteran Gary Hartlage, On Fire Baby’s career slate stands at 3-0-1 in five starts with earnings of $237,329.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who collected his second Kentucky Oaks victory when he saddled Plum Pretty to win last year’s running, nominated six fillies in a bid for a second consecutive victory in the race. That group is headed by three fillies that were wagering interests in Churchill Downs’ 2012 Kentucky Oaks Future Wager: Kaleem Shah Inc.’s Eden’s Moon, winner of Santa Anita’s Grade I Las Virgenes on March 3 in her stakes debut; Peachtree Stable’s unbeaten Princess Arabella, the favored individual filly in the Oaks Future Bet who is also nominated to the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown races; and Mamma Kimbo, another Peachtree filly who scored a dazzling victory at Santa Anita in her lone career start.
Todd Pletcher – a two-time Kentucky Oaks winner with champion 3-year-old fillies Rags to Riches (2007) and Ashado (2004) – led all trainers with eight nominated fillies.