Kentucky Oaks Purse Doubles to $1 Million

Churchill will offer 25 stakes worth more than $7.3 million at its spring meet.

The purse of the 137th Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), which will be held May 6 at Churchill Downs, will be doubled to $1 million, Churchill officials announced Jan. 14.

Along with the $2 million Kentucky Derby (gr. I), the Oaks helps head a schedule of 25 stakes worth purses of $7.325 million at the Churchill spring meet. The 39-day meet opens with the first Kentucky Derby week night racing event Saturday, April 30, and will conclude with an Independence Day racing program Monday, July 4.

The record purse for the Kentucky Oaks will make the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies the richest American race in that division. The increase will help boost the value of purses for six stakes scheduled on the Oaks day program to a record $2 million. That total is second at Churchill only to Kentucky Derby day, which also features six graded stakes , three of which are grade I events, with total purses of $3.4 million.

“The Oaks has enjoyed spectacular growth in recent years, and the 2010 running won by Blind Luck was one of its greatest renewals,” Churchill president Kevin Flanery said in a statement. “The 2010 Oaks attracted a record crowd of 116,046, and all-sources wagering set records with $10.6 million bet on the Oaks race, and $30.6 million was wagered on the entire Oaks card, a jump of 20% from the previous record.

“While some stakes have gone on hiatus and others have had slight adjustments in purse levels, our overall stakes schedule is strong and attractive, and our ‘big event days’—the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks, and Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I)—head a roster of stakes that offers wonderful opportunities for horsemen in nearly every division.”