The $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (G1) is the filly equivalent of the Kentucky Derby and the second largest crowd ever, 108,165, came out to watch. A full starting gate of fourteen 3-year-old fillies was entered in the 132nd edition of the classic, a 1 1/8 mile trip around the main track at Churchill Downs. Santa Anita Oaks and Las Virgenes Stakes winner Balance was sent off as the 8-5 favorite over 6-1 second choice Bushfire, winner of the Ashland and the Florida Oaks.
First time by with Miss Norman and Diplomat Lady out front
23-1 longshot Miss Norman broke out of the inside post position and went to the lead right away under jockey Pablo Morales, and set a brisk pace of 22.46 and 46.45 while loose on the lead by as many as 2 1/2 lengths. At the end of the backstretch she quickly dropped out of contention eventually finishing 12th. 34-1 shot Red Cherries Spin inherited the lead at the top of the stretch as Bushfire made her move after stalking the pace in fourth early. The fast pace set the race up for the closers, as 10-1 shot Ermine and 47-1 longest shot Lemons Forever closed strongly through the stretch. Bushfire bore in and bumped into Red Cherries Spin at the 1/16 pole, impeding her rally. Lemons Forever drew away in the final 50 yards to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Ermine, completing the 1 1/8 mile distance in 1:50.07. It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Bushfire in third. After an inquiry, the stewards disqualified Bushfire to sixth, placing her behind Red Cherries Spin. Favorite Balance stalked the fast pace in fifth early but had nothing for the stretch, finishing a disappointing eleventh. The winning odds of 47.10-1 and the win payoff of $96.20 were the largest in the 132-year history of the Oaks. The previous record was 1903 winner Lemco at 40-1.
There were five other stakes races on the card with the Oaks. Full results for all of them with more photos are here.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show
14 Lemons Forever Guidry 96.20 37.00 18.00
12 Ermine Albarado 11.20 7.80
8 Wait a While Gomez 6.40
Winning Time: 1:50.07
$2 Exacta 14-12 985.60
$2 Trifecta 14-12-8 12,186.60
$2 Superfecta 14-12-8-7 89,103.00
Lemons Forever circles after the race while the Inquiry sign flashes behind her. Winning jockey Mark Guidry said, "Anybody knows you got your ups and your downs, but right now we're on an up and I'm very grateful. She didn't break real sharp. I was just biding my time, picking them up. We were wide but I knew turning for home I was on the winner. She had so much momentum. She really accelerated the last eighth of a mile.This was the first time I rode her in a race but I worked her and I knew she liked the track."
They tried to put the lilies on her, but Lemons Forever wanted no part of them. Winning trainer and co-owner Dallas Stewart said, "This is big-time! I've won a lot of good races and I'm lucky to have great owners, but this is the ultimate."
Lemons Forever in the post parade. Stewart continued, "You know, to pick her out out the sale and buy a piece of her, and have the owners stick with you, this is everything you could ask for. This is what horse racing is all about."
Second place finisher Ermine in the post parade. Jockey Robby Albarado said, "She ran great, but give credit to the winner. She is a nice filly. This was the best field of fillies for this race since maybe back to Silverbulletday in 1999." Her trainer Ronny Werner said, "It was a tough race. I have no complaints. She's a lady and a lady on the track. She ran her guts out, so I have no reason to complain."
Third place finisher (after the DQ) Wait a While in the post parade. Her trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We thought she ran in a big race. On the turn she tried to make a move up the rail, but got in a little trouble. She was bothered a bit, but it's hard to tell if it cost her a placing."
Disqualified third place finisher (placed 6th) Bushfire in the post parade. Her jockey Cornelio Velasquez said, "She ran very well, it just didn't work out well."
11th place finisher and beaten favorite Balance in the post parade. Her trainer David Hofmans said, "I guess he had a real rough trip going down the backside. He couldn't get position and he just kept getting shut off. he said she felt great and just didn't have enough to catch anybody."
Triple Crown quick links:
Top Kentucky Derby Contenders - my list of the top horses headed to the Derby with profiles for each with photos, stats, and link to more info like past performances and pedigree.
Analyzing the top 2013 Kentucky Derby contenders - My annual analysis of the top contenders to try and select a winner by matching each to the profile of a Kentucky Derby winner using many of the more popular angles and statistical trends. This year there were is a 3-way tie for the top spot: Goldencents, Normandy Invasion, and Overanalyze.
2013 Kentucky Derby And Oaks Security - New enhanced stricter rules will be enforced this year. Be sure to read the rules as many have changed and more things are banned. There will still be magnetic wand searches of all patrons and many things are no longer allowed. Check here to make sure you don't bring anything they will confiscate.
Review: Triple Crown Handicapper 2013 - by Jim Mazur. Includes lots of stats for all 3 races and explains how to use a system of statistically derived negative angles to eliminate the "bad" picks.
Review: Kentucky Derby Greatest Moments - Commemorative DVD from Churchill Downs with video from 27 different runnings along with interviews, photos, and historical info. Definitely recommended for any racing fan!
Review: Churchill Downs - America's Most Historic Racetrack by Kimberly Gatto. An entertaining and informative account of the history of the track and it's most famous race, the Kentucky Derby, with lots of photos. Definitely recommended.