by Kevin Stott | The $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (G1) runs from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky this afternoon (ESPN, 5EDT/2PDT) as the Kentucky Derby weekend kicks off with an outstanding field of 3-year-old fillies running in this spectacular 11-horse field race in hopes of ultimately wearing that traditional garnet of lillies.
Proud Spell, running from the No. 8 post, is expected to be among the race favorites and is owned by Larry Jones – also the owner of Eight Belles. Proud Spell is hoping to avenge a third-place finish in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on the Polytrack where Little Belle and Bsharpsonata finished one-two.
"She should be the favorite or at least the second choice off what’s she’s accomplished," said Jones of Proud Spell who upset Eclipse Award winner Indian Blessing in the Grade 2 Fair Ground Oaks.
Both Little Belle (Post No. 7) and Bsharpsonata (No. 10) will give Proud Spell a chance to avenge that loss in the Ashland Stakes.
The rest of the Kentucky Oaks field includes Golden Doc A (No. 1), Absolutely Cindy (No. 2), Awesome Chic (No. 3), Elusive Lady (No. 4), Rasierra (No. 5), Country Star (No. 6), A To The Croft (No. 9) and Pure Clan (No. 11).
In an attempt to insure himself and his horse Eight Belles of having the best possible race result this weekend, owner Jones entered the filly in both the Oaks and Saturday’s Derby, where the horse drew the No. 5 spot (20-1 odds). After drawing the extreme outside post position (No. 12) for today’s Oaks, Jones scratched Eight Belles for the race and will take his chances on her in the 134th Run for the Roses on Saturday.
The top four contenders for the Kentucky Oaks including their records and their graded earnings are: Little Belle (6-3-1-1, $310,000); Bsharpsonata (10-6-1-0, $280,750); Proud Spell (7-4-2-1, $880,000); and Country Star (3-2-1-0, $580,300).
Early odds for the Kentucky Oaks were: Golden Doc A (12-1); Absolutely Cindy (20-1); Awesome Chic (20-1); Elusive Lady (30-1); Rasierra Ray (50-1); Country Star (4-1); Little Belle (8-1); Proud Spell (7-2); A To The Croft (7-2); Bsharpsonata (6-1); and Pure Clan (6-1).
The post time for the 1 1/8-mile race is 5:45 p.m. EDT and 2:45 p.m. PDT.