It may not quite be the Kentucky Derby, but the Kentucky Oaks is, essentially, a dress rehearsal for Saturday's big race at Churchill Downs. It has all the feel, pomp and pageantry of derby, with a few major differences. Unlike the derby, the Kentucky Oaks is for the fillies and instead of a run for the roses, it's a dash for the lilies. And with excitement in the air as the 2011 Kentucky Derby weekend kicked off at Churchill Downs, the fillies took center-stage in front of just over 110,000 adoring fans.
Joyful Victory opened as the morning favorite and held 2/1 odds as they hit the post, followed closely by Zazu and Kathmanblu, each at 4/1. Summer Soire took the lead into the first turn, with Joyful Victory sitting back in fifth, biding her time. She was flanked by Kathmanblu and Zazu, who were all comfortable waiting to hit the gas pedal as they hit the back-stretch.
However, as they made the turn, Plum Pretty took the lead down the stretch and opened it up, leaving the field in the dust down the stretch. St. John's River came on strong down the stretch, but Plum Pretty was able to hold at the wire, winning by less than a length. And, again, Bob Baffert had a winning horse at Churchill Downs, this time in the Kentucky Oaks.
It was the No. 12 and No. 13 horses at the wire, with Plum Pretty taking home the $500,000 top-prize and garland of lilies by a nose over St. John's River.
For more on the race, check out the rest of our 2011 Kentucky Oaks StoryStream. The Kentucky Derby gets underway on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Stay with our 2011 Kentucky Derby StoryStream for previews, odds and analysis up to and throughout the derby. For more on the race, head over to SB Nation's Kentucky Derby StoryStream or check out And Down The Stretch They Come. Be sure to check out SB Nation's Kentucky Oaks StoryStream, as well.