Everyone likes to talk about the Derby gods. Their impact on racing this weekend at Churchill Downs is unknown, but they certainly have blessed the Louisville, Ky. area with nice weather.
In contrast to a year ago, blue skies and pleasant weather greeted racing fans at Churchill the weekend featuring the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
Last year featured chilly days, rain, and wind. Both the Oaks and Derby were run over muddy tracks, and the storm that hit prior to the Derby sent fans scurrying for cover.
The crowd was a bit slow to arrive on Friday, with some empty seats and a sparse group in the infield when the gates sprung for the first race Oaks day at 11:08 a.m. Many were milling around taking in the "new" Churchill Downs and its extensive renovation.
It didn't take the crowd that long to assemble however. By the time the third race rolled around, Churchill was one crowded place.
The first race, for maiden fillies and mares, was won by Lady Ann Summers, who came from just off the pace under Mike Smith for the victory. The daughter of Two Punch was bred by Bill Landes and races for Nelson McMakin. The 3-year-old filly is trained by Larry Jones.
The Oaks is the 10th of 11 races on the card. There are two scratches in the Oaks, Dance Away Capote and Aspen Tree.