What is the Kentucky Oaks®?

Posted by Jazzy Morgan on March 09, 2020

The first ever Kentucky Oaks was run on May 19th, 1875 and founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., the same man who founded the Kentucky Derby®. The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbred Fillies, which are young female horses. 

The winner of the Kentucky Oaks race receives a large garland of pink stargazer lilies, which has become the official color and flower of the entire day. Churchill Downs® on Kentucky Oaks race day, from the drinks, to outfits, to the decorations around the track. This is to show support for breast cancer awareness, and guests can show that through wearing pink and by drinking a Finlandia® Oaks Lily, the official drink of the Kentucky Oaks made with vodka and cranberry juice.

In 2012, history was made when Rosie Napravnik became the first woman ever to win the Kentucky Oaks® with her horse, Believe You Can, and believe she did!

See also: What's the Difference Between the Kentucky Oaks & Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Oaks® Day

Every year, the Longines Kentucky Oaks race is held on the Friday prior to the Kentucky Derby. This pink-filled day is known as Kentucky Oaks Day, and generally hosts around 13 total horse races. On average, over 100,000 guests attend the Oaks Day races and are all encouraged to dress in pink, drink the signature Kentucky Oaks Lily with grey goose and pink lemonade and support the fight against breast and ovarian cancer.

Over the years, Oaks Day efforts have raised national attention to the fight against these cancers as well as over $800,000 for charity. Keep reading to find out about several events held on Kentucky Oaks day that support this amazing cause.

Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade

The Survivors Parade has been a staple on Oaks Day for over 10 years. The parade is a march of breast and ovarian cancer survivors held on Churchill Downs’ historic racetrack. Fans are invited to nominate themselves, a relative, or a friend who has survived breast and/or ovarian cancer by sharing the survivor’s story. During this time fans are able to select a nominee and can donate to the Kentucky Oaks charitable cause, Derby Divas and the Norton Cancer Institute of Breast Health Program, on behalf of that nominee.

Survivors walk in the parade just before the running of the Kentucky Oaks on Oaks Day!

The Longines Fashion Contest

As mentioned, many guests come to the Kentucky Oaks dressed in their best pink outfit to support breast and ovarian cancer survivors. Everyone knows the fashion is a large part of the Kentucky Derby experience and the Kentucky Oaks is no exception. The exciting day gives attendees the chance to dress their best in their pink attire including fabulous hats and handkerchiefs, suits and dresses, and even sunglasses or shoes!

Every year on the Kentucky Oaks Day, The Longines Fashion Contest is held for the most stylish guests. Celebrity judges decide who pulled out all the stops. Following the fashion show, a winner will be selected for “best dressed” and extra points are awarded for wearing pink!

Attend the Kentucky Oaks as a VIP

As the Official Experience Partner for Churchill Downs®, Derby Experiences offers a variety of Official Ticket Packages that include access to Kentucky Oaks day!  Most packages include a reserved seat, luxury hospitality access in a climate-controlled venue complete with a celebrity jockey meet & greet, gourmet food, premium beverage options and so much more!

Derby Experiences Ticket Packages