A field of 12 three-year-old fillies, headed by Grade I winners Country Star, Little Belle and Golden Doc A as well as possible Kentucky Derby starter Eight Belles, was entered Tuesday for Friday’s 134th running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs.
In addition to the Grade I winners, five other graded stakes winners are in the field for the Oaks on a Friday card that features five other stakes races, of which four are graded. First post time for the 11-race card is 11 a.m. (EDT) with the Oaks scheduled to run at 5:45 p.m.
Stonerside Stable’s Country Star, trained by Hall of Famer and two-time Kentucky Oaks winner Bobby Frankel, won the Grade I Darley Alcibiades and Hollywood Starlet to close out 2007. In her lone 2008 start, Country Star finished fifth in the Ashland Stakes (GI) at Keeneland. Rafael Bejarano, who was in the saddle for the Grade I victories, has the call Friday and will break from post position six.
Darley Stable’s Little Belle, winner of the Ashland in her most recent start, brings a three-race win streak into the Oaks. Rajiv Maragh, who has been aboard for three victories, will ride Friday and break from post position seven.
Ron McCauley’s Golden Doc A took the Grade I Las Virgenes at Santa Anita in February and followed that effort with runner-up finishes in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI) and Stonerside Beaumont (GII). Kent Desormeaux has the call on Golden Doc A, who will break from post position one.
Rick Porter, who races under Fox Hill Farms, plans to enter Eight Belles in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Wednesday. Should Eight Belles draw what is deemed as an unfavorable post position, Porter would scratch her out of the Derby and run in the Oaks.
Riding a four-race win streak, Eight Belles will be ridden in the Oaks by Ramon Dominguez. Dominguez has been aboard for victories in the Honeybee (GIII) and Fantasy (GII) at Oaklawn Park. If she runs in the Oaks, Eight Belles will break from post position 12. Eight Belles is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Other graded stakes winners in the field are Aurora Springs Stable’s Awesome Chic, Cloverleaf Farm’s Bsharpsonata, Brereton Jones’ Proud Spell, Gold Mark Farm’s Elusive Lady and IEAH Stable, Lewis Lakin and Pegasus Holding Group Stable’s Pure Clan.
The field for the 134th Kentucky Oaks, from the rail out, is as follows: Golden Doc A (Desormeaux), Keith Kinmon’s Absolutely Cindy (Julien Leparoux), Awesome Chic (Robby Albarado), Elusive Lady (Eibar Coa), Lloyd DeBruycker’s Rasierra (Jamie Theriot), Country Star, Little Belle, Proud Spell (Edgar Prado), Koolmen Racing Stable’s A to the Croft (Calvin Borel), Bsharpsonata (Eric Camacho), Pure Clan and Eight Belles.
All starters will carry 121 pounds.
Also on Friday’s card is the $300,000-added Louisville Stakes (GII) that features the return to Churchill Downs of Eclipse Award winner Ginger Punch.
Owned by Stronach Stable, Ginger Punch scored the first of five victories in 2007 at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. She culminated the year and clinched older filly and mare honors with a victory in the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) at Monmouth Park. She will carry top weight of 124 pounds and concede 2-6 pounds to her six rivals.
The mile and a sixteenth main track event also attracted West Point Thoroughbreds’ Lear’s Princess, who defeated Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches in the Grade I Gazelle last September at Belmont Park.
Three Grade III stakes also will be offered: The $150,000-added Alysheba for three-year-olds and up going a mile and a sixteenth on the main track; the $150,000-added Crown Royal American Turf for three-year-olds going a mile and a sixteenth; and the $100,000-added Aegon Turf Sprint for three-year-olds and up going five furlongs.
The Edgewood, a $150,000-added event for three-year-old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf, is the sixth stakes race of the day.