Churchill Downs’ La Troienne Stakes, a 1 1/8-mile race for fillies and mares ages 4 & up run each year on Kentucky Oaks Day, was elevated to Grade I status for its 2014 running by the American Graded Stakes Committee (“AGSC”).
The committee released its list of graded and listed stakes races for 2014 on Friday (Dec. 6) and the La Troienne is the only Churchill Downs stakes race that will undergo a change in status and will be the only stakes race at a U.S. track to be elevated from Grade II to Grade I status in 2014.
With the addition of the La Troienne, Churchill Downs Racetrack will have seven Grade I events on its 2014 stakes schedule. The others are the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands, Longines Kentucky Oaks, Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare, Stephen Foster Handicap, Woodford Reserve Turf Classic and Humana Distaff.
Formerly known as the Louisville Breeders’ Cup and the Louisville Distaff, the La Troienne has been staged annually since 1986 and has attracted some of American racing’s most outstanding stars.
Notable recent runnings include the 2011 renewal won by Blind Luck, the reigning 3-year-old filly champion and winner of the 2010 Kentucky Oaks. Blind Luck defeated Unrivaled Belle, the defending winner who had turned back 2009 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra its 2010 running and won the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic later that year. Ginger Punch, the champion older female of 2007, won its 2008 running. Escena won the race during a 1998 season for which she was named America’s top older filly or mare, while Jewel Princess turned back Serena’s Song when she won the race on her way to the Eclipse Award title in 1996.
The 2013 La Troienne was won by Padua Stable’s Authenticity, who edged Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby, winner of the Apple Blossom (GI) at Oaklawn Park, by a head following a dramatic stretch run. Brereton C. Jones’ Believe You Can, winner of the 2012 Kentucky Oaks, was third.
Other accomplished La Troienne winners through the years include One Dreamer, who won the race in 1994 and returned that fall to score an upset victory in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff; Halo America, who defeated future champion Escena in 1997; Spain, the winner of the 1991 Breeders’ Cup Distaff who won the following spring; and other major stakes winners Quilma-CHI, Fit for a Queen, You, Miss Isella, Heritage of Gold and Queen Alexandra.
The race is named in honor of La Troienne, acclaimed as the United States’ most famous and influential broodmare in the 20th century. She produced 15 foals, 12 of whom raced and 10 were winners. Her notable descendants include Kentucky Derby winners Sea Hero, Go for Gin, Smarty Jones and Super Saver; Kentucky Oaks winner and champion Princess Rooney; and a long roster of stars that include Easy Goer, Buckpasser, Busher, Private Account, Busanda, Allez France and Caerleon.