About the Oaks and Oaks betting
As a race for three-year-old fillies over twelve furlongs (one-and-a-half miles), the Oaks is the middle distance Classic for fillies – a sort of fillies Derby. However, it has become overshadowed by the Derby to such an extent that the day of the Oaks – now held on the first Friday in June, the day before Derby Day – is described by Epsom Racecourse as “Ladies Day” (allowing them to make various puns about competition between fine fillies in their advertising).
The Oaks is generally a keenly contested contest for all that, not least because of the breeding restrictions of female horses. Brood mares can only produce one foal per year, making top-grade fillies a rare and consequently expensive commodity.
The race is named after the Earl of Derby’s country house, which is near Epsom (but nowhere near Derby) and was first run in 1779 when it was won by the Earl’s own horse.
The 1,000 Guineas can offer some betting clues about the Oaks as it is frequently the first time many of the horses are raced as three-year-olds. Prominent trials for the race include the Lingfield Oaks Trial and the Musidora Stakes, which is part of York’s Dante Festival – itself a Derby trial.
2008 Musidora winner Lush Lashes underperformed in the Oaks, which was won by Look Here, but recovered to record Group One wins in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Yorkshire Oaks at Newmarket and the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown in her Classic season, while Look Here preserved her honour by staying unraced from the Oaks until the St Leger.