Stakes Profile: Kentucky Oaks
By Dana Byerly, Hello Race Fans Co-founder
The Kentucky Oaks is 9 furlong race for 3-year-olds fillies at Churchill Downs. First run in 1875, the Oaks along with the Kentucky Derby are the longest continuously running sporting events in America. While the Kentucky Oaks has produced its fair share Eclipse Award champions and Hall of Famers, what kind of betting race is it?
Below is a snapshot of what has produced Kentucky Oaks winners since 1991 including odds, bettors’ choice, field size, running styles, prior race location, prior race finish position, number of days since the last race as well as Brisnet Speed Figures.
The charts and graphs are interactive. Hover over or touch bars and lines for more information.
Kentucky Oaks Winners Odds & Payouts 1991-2018
Odds are shown as listed in the charts. Hover-over or touch each bar for $2 payout.
Outliers Gal in a Ruckus (1995 odds of 34-1), Lemons Forever (2006 odds of 47.1-1) and Princess of Sylmar (2013 odds of 38.8-1) have been excluded from the chart below to allow for better overall visualization. They are included in the averages and medians.
Average $1 Odds: $9.20
Median $1 Odds: $4.65
Average $1 Odds: $9.30
Median $1 Odds: $6.30
Average $2 Win: $20.40
Median $2 Win: $11.30
Average $2 Win: $20.60
Median $2 Win: $14.60
Kentucky Oaks Winners Bettors’ Choice and Field Size 1991-2018
Bettors’ Choice is the ranked order of the field by final odds: The favorite is the first choice, the second favorite is the second choice and so on. For example, 1991 winner Lite Light was 1st choice in a 10 horse field. Hover-over or touch the bars for more information
Average Choice of Winner: 3.36
Average Field Size: 10.96
Average Favorite Finish Position: 3.61
Average Choice of Winner: 3.27
Average Field Size: 12.36
Average Favorite Finish Position: 4.11
Winning Kentucky Oaks Running Styles 1991-2018
To read the charts below, 0 on the vertical axis is the lead, any distance behind the leader is below 0 and any distance above 0 is the amount the leader is ahead of the next horse. At the bottom are the points of call as they correspond to the charts. Each line is a horse, and you can hover over the point of call for each line to see more information about the horse.
For example, if you hover over the bottom-most line in the first chart at the 1/2 mile mark you’ll see that in the 2017 winner Abel Tasman was 16.5 lengths behind the leader at this point in the race.
The Kentucky Oaks has predominately been won by stalkers/pressers (46.4%) since 1991 with deep closers performing second best (28.6%) in the time frame. In the last 10 years these two running styles have dominated the winners circle with 70% stalker/pressers and 30% deep closers. Front runners have only won twice since 1991.
Position at the 1/2 mile mark…
Speed: In the lead
Presser/Stalker: Between .1 and 3 lengths off leader
Off the pace: Between 3 and 6 lengths off the leader
Deep closer: More than 6 lengths off the leader
Below is a closer look at winning running styles by decade.
Kentucky Oaks Winners Last Track Raced & Days Since 1991-2018
Keeneland has produced the majority of Kentucky Oaks winners since 1991, and has retained a slight edge in the last 10 years producing 30% of the winners. Santa Anita has done well in the full time frame but Oaklawn and Fair Grounds have each produced 20% of the last 10 winners.
Average Days Since Last Race: 31.86
Median Days Since Last Race: 27
Winners Placing in Prior Race 1991-2018
Winners on average have raced within the last 30 days and almost 60% came on a win. All but two Kentucky Oaks winners since 1991 finished in the money in the prior race.
Kentucky Oaks Brisnet Ratings 1991-2018
The chart below represents the last three Brisnet Speed Ratings earned by the Kentucky Oaks winner, and includes the winning figure for the Kentucky Oaks. In instances where a starter did not have three consecutive Brisnet Speed Ratings leading into the Kentucky Oaks, the line starts with most recent.
Winning Brisnet Speed: 102
Brisnet Speed Prior Race: 98
Brisnet Speed 2 Back: 97
Brisnet Speed 3 Back: 95
In the last ten years winners have come in on an improved Brisnet Speed Rating a notable 80% of the time.
The Kentucky Oaks has produced its share of generous payouts on favorites and long shots alike. The average winning odds since 1991 are 9.2-1 with a median of 4.65-1 and average payout of $20.40 for a $2 ticket. The medians jumped slightly since 2010 to odds of $6.3-1 and $14.60 to win (compared to a median of $11.30 to win since 1991. Also of note, in the last 10 years 50% of the winners have paid over $10.
The Kentucky Oaks has also been relatively formful with favorites performing just a hair below the generally accepted win rate of 35% to win 32.1% of the time. The winner has been 3rd choice on average (3.36) and favorites have finished 3rd on average (3.61). Since 2010 favorites finish position dropped slightly to 4th (4.11).
Stalkers/Pressers have performed best since 1991 winning 46.4% of the time. In the last 10 runnings they’ve improved upon that trend winning 70% of the time. Deep closers have performed well in the time period with 28.6% of the wins. Front runners have only won twice since 1991.
Winners have predominately come from Keeneland since 1991 with Santa Anita not too far behind. In the last 10 years Keeneland has retained its edge but Oaklawn and Fair Grounds have had an uptick in winners. Field size has been well above the 2017 average of 7.7 starters with an average of 10.96 starters since 1991 and 12.36 starters since 2010.
Winners have predominately come in on an improved Brisnet speed rating, that trend has been stronger in the last years at 80%.