If the 2011 Kentucky Derby (See updated Derby odds here) is the main course of a fine dining experience, the Kentucky Oaks is the fancy appetizer. It whets horse racing fans appetites, and serves as the show before the show at Churchill Downs. On Friday night, the derby weekend begins with the Kentucky Oaks, a Grade I stakes race for the fillies.
It's an interesting race, and has the feel of a scaled-down version of the derby. Instead of a run for the roses, the Kentucky Oaks is a run for the lilies, and has an adorable nickname: "Fillies for the lilies."
Here is the vital information for Friday's race
Start time: The post time is set for 5:45 p.m. EDT.
Field: Unlike the massive field slated for the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks field is a bit smaller, with 13 horses entered in this year's race. All 13 are three-year-old fillies, the term for young female horses.
Odds: At 5/2, Joyful Victory is the favorite heading into the race. Kathmanblu and Zazu are close-behind at 4/1. Summer Soiree and Plum Pretty, both at 5/1, are the only other horses holding better than 10/1 odds.
Purse: The winner takes home $500,000 and the winning horse is draped in lilies. The total purse is $1 million.
Preview: Matt Gardner put together an extensive preview for SB Nation on Thursday, running down the entire field, previewing each horse and making a pick. Be sure to check out his 2011 Kentucky Oaks preview. You can find a more extensive preview, also put together by Gardner, over at SB Nation's horse racing blog, And Down The Stretch They Come.