At the Oscars, the climax to the Best Actor and Actress awards is built up by numerous other category and supporting role awards. Most certainly, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks share in a similar production with important stakes races preceding these featured events on their respective days. The two-day, multi-card of racing boast an incredible 11 graded stakes races. These races draw a red carpet of thoroughbred athletes, trainers, jockeys and even some real celebrities. This is not your typical undercard but rather the “A list” of some of the best in their respective racing divisions.
One of the most prestigious undercard races is the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I). The 1 1/8-mile race over Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course is one of America’s most important races for older turf stars and is run immediately prior to the Kentucky Derby. Reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan, 2011 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) winner Animal Kingdom, Breeders’ Cup Turf (GI) champion and defending winner Little Mike and four-time Grade I winner Point of Entry head one of the strongest rosters of early nominations in the 28-year history.
It not uncommon, to see some Kentucky Derby entrants from previous years return the first weekend in May to vie for top purses. Last year’s Grade III Alysheba Stakes featured Mucho Macho Man and Breeders’ Cup Champion Fort Larned. And Derby entrant and Preakness winner, Shackleford found his way to the winner’s circle in last year’s Grade II Churchill Downs. Female champions too are prevalent on Oaks Day. Breeders’ Cup champion Groupie Doll was victorious first in the Grade I Humana Distaff.
Make time either day to scroll the program and visit the paddock as you just may see some other stars names you recognize!