A total of 120 fillies have been entered for the 139th running of Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), an increase of 27.7% compared with 2012 following the early nomination phase.
The early nominees include 2012 2-year-old filly champion Beholder, recent winner of the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I); undefeated stakes winner Unlimited Budget; and Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) winner Pure Fun.
If Spendthrift Farm's Beholder runs in the Oaks, she will attempt to become just the third filly to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), be named 2-year-old champion, and the Oaks. The only fillies to achieve this hatrick were Mike Pegram's Silverbulletday, winner of the 1999 Oaks, and Eugene Klein's Open Mind, who won theOaks a decade earlier. Both Silverbulletday and Open Mind won their Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Churchill Downs, while Beholder's Breeders' Cup triumph came at Santa Anita Park.
Other grade I winners among the nominees include Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman's Executiveprivilege (Del Mar Debutante Stakes and Chandelier Stakes) who is trained by two-time Oaks winner Bob Baffert; So Many Ways (Spinaway Stakes) owned by Maggi Moss and trained by Anthony Dutrow; Stonestreet Stables Dreaming of Julia (Frizette Stakes) trained by Todd Pletcher; and John C. Oxley's Spring in the Air (Darley Alcibiades Stakes) trained by Mark Casse.
Pletcher leads all trainers with nine Oaks-nominated fillies, one more than Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Mott, the all-time training leader at Churchill Downs who is looking for his first success in the Oaks, is represented by a group headed by Emollient and Flashy Gray, who was the individual favorite in Churchill Downs' Kentucky Oaks Future Wager. Kiaran McLaughin nominated seven fillies, while Baffert and John Sadler had six nominees.
Darley Stable led owners with five nominees, one more than Calumet Farm. Historic Calumet, now leased by Brad Kelley, has won the Kentucky Oaks a record six times.
The early nomination process for Oaks 139 required owners and trainers to submit the names of their fillies and a $200 fee for each horse to Churchill Downs on or before Feb. 23. A late nomination period is underway and continues through April 10.
Nomination of a filly to the Oaks during the ongoing late phase requires payment of a $1,500 fee. After that deadline, a supplemental nomination process offers a final opportunity for a filly to become Oaks eligible. Supplemental nominations require payment of a $30,000 fee at the time of entry to the 2013 Kentucky Oaks April 30. Original nominees are preferred if more than 14 fillies are entered in the Oaks.