Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Rags to Riches, winner of the Las Virgenes (gr. I) at Santa Anita in her stakes debut, and Frank Calabrese’s homebred Dreaming of Anna, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2006, head a record roster of 192 sophomore fillies nominated to the 133rd running of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/8-mile race will be renewed on May 4. The race, traditionally run on the day before the Derby, annually attracts attendance in excess of 100,000. The 2006 renewal drew a crowd of 108,065, the second-largest attendance figure in Oaks history. The 2005 Kentucky Oaks attracted a record gathering of 111,243.
This year’s Kentucky Oaks nomination total exceeds the record of 191 set in 1986 and matched the following year. It also reflects a significant jump from last year’s total of 160 nominees, which was an increase from the 144 that were made eligible for the race in 2005.
Rags to Riches, a daughter of A.P. Indy and half-sister to 2006 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Jazil, justified her $1.9 million yearling purchase price when she defeated a strong field to make the Las Virgenes her second win in three career starts. One of 14 nominees trained by Todd Pletcher, Rags to Riches could add a second Kentucky Oaks trophy to the trainer’s collection. Pletcher won the race in 2004 with Ashado.
Dreaming Of Anna, a daughter of Rahy trained by Wayne Catalano, could become only the third winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) to win the Kentucky Oaks. Both of the previous fillies to accomplish that feat – Eugene Klein’s Open Mind in 1989 and Mike Pegram’s Silverbulletday in 1999 – won both races at Churchill Downs. Earl Scheib’s Fran’s Valentine, winner of the 1995 Kentucky Oaks, finished first in both races, but was disqualified from her victory in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1984 and placed 10th.
Other accomplished members of this year’s crop of 3-year-old fillies that were nominated to the Kentucky Oaks include:
-- The Pletcher-trained duo of Starlight Stable and Donald Lucarelli’s Octave and Dogwood Stable’s Cotton Blossom, the 2-3 finishers in the BC Juvenile Fillies;
-- Heiligbrodt Racing’s Appealing Zophie, winner of the Spinaway (gr. I) and the recent Silverbulletday (gr. III) at Fair Grounds;
-- Phipps Stable’s Boca Grande, winner of the Demoiselle (gr. II);
-- Jack Hodge Jr. and Stonerside Stables' Sutra, winner of the Frizette (gr. I);
-- Santa Ysabel (gr. III) winner and Las Virgenes runner-up Baroness Thatcher;
-- Bruce Lunsford’s Alcibiades (gr. II) winner Bel Air Beauty;
-- J. Paul Reddam’s Cash Included, winner of the Oak Leaf Breeders’ Cup (gr. I) at Santa Anita;
-- Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein’s Get Ready Bertie, the Demoiselle runner-up and winner of the Fair Grounds’ Tiffany Lass;
-- Edward P. Evans’ Davona Dale (gr. II) and Tropical Park Oaks winner Christmas Kid;
-- West Point Thoroughbreds’ and Lewis G. Lakin’s Dream Rush, the upset winner over Dreaming of Anna in the Old Hat (gr. III);
-- Reddam's Sunshine Million Oaks winner Mistical Plan.
Supplemental nominations will be accepted to the Kentucky Oaks. Those nominations must be made at the time of entry on May 1 and accompanied by a payment of $25,000, or five percent of the purse. The Kentucky Oaks is limited to 14 starters with preference to fillies with the highest earnings in graded stakes races.
The Kentucky Oaks will be broadcast live to an international audience on ESPN.