Edited from Churchill Downs track notes
Ogden Mills Phipps' unbeaten Storm Flag Flying, winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) and champion 2-year-old female of 2002, heads a list of 138 fillies nominated to the 129th running of the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
The 1 1/8-mile test for 3-year-old fillies is the sister race to the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and, like the Derby, the Oaks has been renewed each year without interruption at the Louisville, Ky., track since 1875. The 2003 Kentucky Oaks will be run on Friday, May 2 and will be televised nationally by ESPN.
Storm Flag Flying, a regally bred daughter of Storm Cat who has fashioned a perfect record in four races for Kentucky-born trainer Claude "Shug" McGaughey, will bid to carry on a strong family tradition at Churchill Downs if she competes in the Kentucky Oaks. Her grand-dam, champion Personal Ensign, completed a brilliant and unbeaten career under the track's famed Twin Spires with a narrow victory over Kentucky Derby winner Winning Colors in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) in 1988.
Storm Flag Flying is joined on the list of Kentucky Oaks nominees by a McGaughey-trained stablemate: Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's Yell, the upset winner of the Feb. 23 $150,000 Davona Dale Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. McGaughey and the Phipps family won the Kentucky Oaks with Dispute in 1993.
The list of nominees to the Oaks, which is down slightly from the 146 fillies nominated in 2002, also includes Robert and Beverly Lewis' Composure, the Bob Baffert-trained runner-up to Storm Flag Flying in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and winner of the Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) at Santa Anita earlier this year. Baffert, who won the 1999 Oaks with Silverbulletday, also nominated the Lewises' Santa Catarina, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and The Thoroughbred Corp's Atlantic Ocean, a four-time stakes winner whose victories include the Santa Ysabel (gr. III) at Santa Anita.
Other stars on the list of Oaks nominees include Awesome Humor, winner of the Debutante (gr. III) at Churchill Downs and Saratoga's Spinaway (gr. I) Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) winner Elloluv; Golden Rod (gr. II) winner My Boston Gal; Walmac Alcibiades (gr. II) winner Westerly Breeze; Pocahontas and Silverbulletday (gr. III) winner Belle of Perintown; Florida Stallion Stakes star Ivanavinalot; unbeaten Lady Tak, winner of the Fair Grounds' Tiffany Lass; and Handpainted, winner of Woodbine's Ontario Debutante.
Dubai-based Godolphin Racing nominated eight fillies to give this year's race an international flair and is the leading owner of Kentucky Oaks nominees. The Godolphin nominees include Danuta, winner of last week's Moonshell Mile at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai, and Loving Kindness, winner of the Group Three Prix De Cabourg at France's Deauville last summer.
Todd Pletcher nominated eight fillies and tied Godolphin's Saeed bin Suroor as the leading trainer of Oaks-nominated horses. Both trainers are looking for their first victories in the race.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, whose four Kentucky Oaks victories is good for a tie for second with Calumet Farm legend Ben A. Jones on the all-time Oaks win list, nominated four fillies to this year's renewal. Lukas scored his Oaks victories with Seaside Attraction (1990), Open Mind (1989), Lucky Lucky Lucky (1984) and Blush With Pride (1982). The late Woody Stephens holds the record for Kentucky Oaks victories with five.
Old Friends, Inc. and trainer Paulo Lobo scored an upset victory in last year's renewal of the Oaks with Farda Amiga, who went on to earn an Eclipse Award as the champion 3-year-old filly of 2002. Farda Amiga's connections are represented on the list of 2003 Oaks candidates by a single nominee: Quero Quero.
Lukas, McGaughey, Baffert and Lobo are joined on the list of 2003 nominators by fellow Oaks-winning trainers Jerry Hollendorfer (Lite Light, 1991 and Pike Place Dancer, 1996), who trains a pair of Oaks nominees, and Bobby Frankel (Keeper Hill, 1998 and Flute, 2001), Neil Howard (Secret Status, 2000), and John T. Ward, Jr. (Gal In A Ruckus, 1995), each of whom nominated a single filly for this year's race. The complete list of all 138 nominees with owners and trainers. The conditions and specifications for the Kentucky Oaks