2018 Longines Kentucky Oaks Horse Race - Louisville Article
When is the Kentucky Oaks 2018?
Since 1875 the 1-1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks stakes race has been held each year at Churchill Downs on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, which is always held the first Saturday in May. This year, the Oaks will be held on Friday, May 4th. Unlike the Kentucky Derby, which accepts both colts and fillies, entry into the Longines Kentucky Oaks is reserved exclusively for the world’s top 14 three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies with the highest earnings.
This field of fillies races for an impressive $1 million guaranteed purse to the delight of record crowds of more than 100,000 spectators each year, and the event consistently ranks among the most popular horse races in the world. The number of attendees at the Oaks typically surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races except the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, often topping even the Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup.
Traditionally, the Kentucky Oaks has always been a held a special place in the hearts of locals, who come out in large numbers to attend the race, and some local schools are even closed that day for an “administrative holiday” that just so happens to coincide with the Kentucky Oaks schedule.
Think Pink at the Kentucky Oaks
The color pink is also part of the track’s “Think Pink” initiative, which is part of an ongoing partnership with cancer fighting charities like Bright Pink and Horses and Hope. In fact, Churchill Downs has been actively involved in the battle against breast cancer since 2009 and is pleased to be part of such a major fund raising program in support of prevention and early detection of these diseases.
Kentucky Oaks Attire
As on Kentucky Derby day, spectators come out to the track for the Kentucky Oaks to enjoy the horses and other festivities, while wearing their finest attire and most elaborate fancy hats. Festivities always start on Oaks Day with a parade, a fashion show, a highly entertaining Hat Parade and - of course - a mint julep or two! Despite the growing number of visitors from out of state who come to the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby each year, the Oaks has always been considered a local event among Louisvillians.
Millionaires Row is another exciting part of the Kentucky Oaks scedule every year, so be sure to keep an eye out for the many celebrities who come to town each year for this special day. Of course, the infield crows are always entertaining to watch - either up close or from the stands - and numerous musical attractions, games, food and other vendors are located throughout the grounds and infield.
Potential entries for this Grade 1 stakes race are selected based on the results of more than 70 graded stakes races held worldwide over a 10-month period. Fillies are permitted to enter the Kentucky Derby instead should they qualify, but must earn their way to the field just like the colts and geldings. This careful selection process is part of what makes the Kentucky Oaks such an essential part of the most exciting weekend in horse racing and a true “don’t miss” event for anyone planning a visit to Louisville, Kentucky.