The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred
fillies staged annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States. The race currently covers 1 1⁄8 miles (1,800 m) at Churchill
Downs; the horses carry 121 pounds (55 kg). The Kentucky Oaks is held on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby each year. The
winner gets a $600,000 purse and a large garland of lilies, affectionately called the "Lillies for the Fillies."
A silver Kentucky Oaks Trophy is presented to the winner.
The first running of the Kentucky Oaks was on May 19, 1875 when Churchill Downs
was known as the Louisville Jockey Club. The race was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. along with the Kentucky Derby,
the Clark Handicap, and the Falls City Handicap. The Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting
events in American history, and the only horse races to be held at their original site since their conception. The Kentucky
Oaks was modeled after the British Epsom Oaks. In the first race, the horse Vinaigrette won the then 1 1⁄2 mile race
in a time of 2:39 3⁄4, winning a purse of $1,175. Since that race the Kentucky Oaks has been held each year. The Kentucky
Oaks is considered by some to be among the most popular horse races in American horse-racing society due to its high attendance.
It attracts about 100,000 people in attendance a year since 2001's 127th running of the Kentucky Oaks. In 1980 it was
about 50,000 people and by 1989, it had reached about 67,000 people. The attendance at the Kentucky Oaks ranks third in the
continent and usually surpasses the attendance of all other stakes races including the Belmont Stakes and the Breeders'
Cup. The attendance of the Kentucky Oaks typically only trails the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes, for more information
see American Thoroughbred Racing top Attended Events. The Kentucky Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, and the Acorn Stakes
are the counterparts to the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, held at Churchill Downs, Pimlico Race Course and Belmont
Park, respectively. The "Filly Triple Crown", known as the Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing, is a series of three
races at the Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has considered changing
the Triple Tiara series to the three counterparts of the Triple Crown
Despite the increasing number of out-of-state visitors who came to the race every year,
the "Oaks" (as local residents simply refer to it) has always been considered to be a local event by the people
of Kentuckiana (the Ohio Valley, centered around Louisville, and consisting of much of northern Kentucky and southern Indiana).
Large crowds of Louisvillians and others from the Kentuckiana attend the Oaks annually and the infield of the race track hosts
numerous musical attractions, boardwalk games, and food and alcoholic beverage vendors. Bringing in one's own alcohol
is forbidden at Churchill Downs and many locals revel in finding ingenious ways to smuggle in their own libations, rather
than pay the inflated prices inside Churchill Downs. Most every school and quite a few businesses in the Kentuckiana region
treat the Oaks as a holiday. Perhaps out of self-consciousness for the gambling aspect of the race, none of the region's
schools declare that the holiday is explicitly because of the Oaks and most simply say it is an "administrative holiday."