Top 10 Ky. Oaks Winners: 1970-Present

The Kentucky Oaks has grown tremendously in stature in the past 40 years, with the purse going from about $40,000 to $500,000. There have been many fantastic fillies to win the race in that span.  We've listed ten of them; take a look at the list then rank them from 1 through 10.  

To participate, use your cursor to drag the selections on the left (currently arranged chronologically) to the blank placeholders on the right. Once you have completed ranking all of the horses, submit your entries and compare your results to the rest of the community. A first place ranking will earn 10 points, second place receives 9 points, and so on. 

42 Comments

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Cleone

I can't believe Susan's Girl isn't higher on the list!  I ranked her #1, yes, even above Rags to Riches, who I had at #2, because Susan's Girl had a much greater body of work.

She was champion three year old filly, and champion older filly or mare TWICE, at four and at six.  

28 Apr 2009 4:33 PM
RagsFan

No other filly even comes close to the domination that Rags to Riches displayed amongst other fillies in 2007.

28 Apr 2009 4:36 PM
Bill Burkett

For once a list which has rankings that are almost bang on.

The one I placed higher than she is currently ranked though is OPEN MIND. People forget what a truly great filly she was.

28 Apr 2009 4:38 PM
For Big Red

I'm putting a word in for Susan's Girl, although many might not remember her. Owned and bred by Fred W. Hooper, her lifetime record is 63 Starts, 29 wins, 14 places, 11 shows and earnings of $1,251,668. 24 of her wins came in stakes. She came back from surgery to remove three bone chips and raced until age 6, winning six stakes and placing in eight others that year. She set a new track record in the Matchmaker Stakes. She also beat males in handicap races.

Susan's Girl was the first American filly or mare to win $1,000,000 back when a million meant something.

Susan's Girl was the Champion 3-yr-old filly 1972, and Champion older mare 1973 and 1975. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1976.

Susan’s Girl is the only female Thoroughbred in the 20th Century to win a 3-year-old championship followed by two older filly/mare championships.

She was also a good broodmare, foaling the GR1 winner Copelan and stakes winner Paramount Jet.

28 Apr 2009 4:47 PM
wabstat

For a short time that spring, Light Lite was the greatest horse in America.  On the day she won the Oaks, no filly listed here would have had a chance.

28 Apr 2009 5:04 PM
Stanley Marcinkowski, Plowville,Pa

the greatest filly not to win was Lakeway

28 Apr 2009 5:05 PM
Ruffian's Fan!

I like the list but: WHERE'S RUFFIAN!? She is amazing and should have been on this list.

28 Apr 2009 5:44 PM
JCRobinson

Ruffian didn't run in the Kentucky Oaks- in fact I think she never left NY as a 3 year old. As for the best NOT to win, how about Go For Wand? But that's off subject. On subject, tough list, I'm not sure where I'd go with it. Good thinking material.....

28 Apr 2009 6:08 PM
democraticjack

Bold 'n Determined was undefeated and went on to become the first filly to beat Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk.  People younger than 30 should not vote on these polls.  LOL.

28 Apr 2009 6:33 PM
Elaine Winter

I'm with For Big Red. Susans Girl hands down.

28 Apr 2009 6:37 PM
Cleone

This is for winners of the Kentucky Oaks.  Ruffian, great as she was, did not run in and thus did not win the Kentucky Oaks.  

28 Apr 2009 6:45 PM
Ruffian's Fan

Opps my bad! sorry!

28 Apr 2009 7:15 PM
Tiznowbaby

No question, Susan's Girl. Right behind, Bold 'n Determined

28 Apr 2009 7:31 PM
Rebs Policy

Susan's Girl is indeed getting short shrift. I think the majority of entries submitted may be by those who never had the priveledge of witnessing her exploits on the track. That is a mixed blessing; On one hand, I'm glad that we have younger fans interested in the sport but dismayed that many only seem to be impressed by what they've seen of recent vintage. Susan's Girl was a stunning bright cherry bay with striking white markings. She traveled from coast to coast like a gypsy and treated weight, surface, track condition or any vaunted rivals that strayed into her space with equal and utter disdain. With apologies to Rags to Riches, whom I adore, and the other grand fillies listed here, Susan's Girl was the type of horse that we shall rarely see again in this age of the quick return on investment.

28 Apr 2009 7:37 PM
MRO

My top 3 are Rags to Riches, Davona Dale, and Bold N' Determined. I like Susan's Girl too. The 70s were great a decade for the girls too, but I had to put the Oaks-Belmont double as #1.

28 Apr 2009 8:02 PM
MRO

Why did the contest start with 1970? The Derby list covered the entire history of the race.

28 Apr 2009 8:04 PM
BobC

I agree with Cleone above. I also ranked Susan's Girl #1. I'm sure it must have something to do with younger fans not remembering her.

She was truly one of the greatest racemares of all time.

28 Apr 2009 8:38 PM
ScottieG

Bold n Determined was just that, she blasted her field that day and had an incredible year even beating Genuine Risk later in the year. She is perhaps one of the greatest racemares never to win a championship and danced every dance as a 3yos in 1980.

28 Apr 2009 8:48 PM
Determined Fan

I agree with ScottieG, where were you all in 1980. The filly that won the Derby, Genuine Risk, could not warm up Bold n Determined on Genuine Risk best day.

28 Apr 2009 9:50 PM
Scarletandgraypimpernel

First, IMHO, Go For Wand had to be the best filly not to win this race, at least in my memory.

I went with Davona Dale on top just because she did sweep the Filly TC her sophomore season.

Poor Goodbye Halo.  Same crop as Winning Colors and the totally forgotten while only being beaten maybe a length in the greatest race ever.

28 Apr 2009 10:37 PM
NightOwlaa

These lists always seem to have the most recent horses on top.

28 Apr 2009 11:01 PM
Terry

Susan's Girl in front! One of the greatest race mares of the past 50 years.

28 Apr 2009 11:46 PM
AMY ROONEY

I  HAD TO PUT PRINCESS ROONEY FIRST, BECAUSE HOME GIRL AND I SHARE THE SAME NAME. SECOND I LOVE GREY HORSES, AND THIRD SHE WAS A GREAT RACE MARE.

 I HAVE SUSAN'S GIRL SECOND BECAUSE I DO REMEMBER HER, A LITTLE. I BELIEVE L. PICAY WAS HER JOCKEY.  ALSO I BELIEVE RACES WERE TOUGHER THAN.  THE WAY TRACKS WERE MAINTAINED, CONDITIONING, SUPPLEMENTS ARE ALL MUCH MORE SOPHISTICARED NOW.  A HORSE HAD TO WORK HARDER TO WIN HEARTS, THERE WAS NOT HRTV OR TVG.  THEY HAD TO WIN!  I THOUGHT DAHLIA WAS THE FIRST MILLION DOLLAR MARE.

BUT I DID PLACE RAGS TO RICHES HIGH, HAVE TO GIVE HER A HIGH FIVE FOR NOT JUST WINNING THE BELMONT, BUT BEATING HORSE OF THE YEAR CURLIN. REMEMBER, WE ALL HAVE DIFFRENT CRITERIA OF WHAT MAKES A LASTING MEMORY.

29 Apr 2009 8:12 AM
LACS70

Davona Dale for one simple fact: She was the first filly to win the Triple Tiara - The Kentucky Oaks, The Black-Eyeed Susan, and The Acorn.

29 Apr 2009 8:48 AM
Zarkava

Susan's Girl was the best, but Davona Dale, Princess Rooney and Bold n Determined are right there too.  Too bad younger fans don't learn about the older generation of horses.  Davona Dale was a monster who would have won the Derby.  Princess Rooney was stellar and needs to get more respect.  Bold nDetermined was the best 3 yr old of her year.  But Susan's Girl must be ranked at the top.

29 Apr 2009 9:10 AM
Old Timer

This one was a great list and had some great comments. As noted by a few commenters, it is crazy to have Susan's Girl ranked as low as # 5. Maybe it's true -- you shouldn't let anyone under 30 vote! :)

Seriously, as one who had the chance to see Susan's Girl race a couple of times, she was one of the best. She, like Rags, beat the boys. Plus she stuck around and was a joy to watch for many years. Nevertheless, I had to put Rags #1 and Susan's Girl # 2 as winning the Belmont, the "Test of Champions" trumps all of the other accomplishments.

29 Apr 2009 9:24 AM
Tonchuck

No way Silverbulletday or Ashado should be rated higher than Davona Dale, Princess Rooney and Bold N Determined. Rags to Riches is only 4th best.

29 Apr 2009 10:13 AM
Tetrarch

Zarkava (et al.) is absolutely correct. These top four woulda beaten most anything these days with ease.

"Susan's Girl was the best, but Davona Dale, Princess Rooney and Bold n Determined are right there too.  Too bad younger fans don't learn about the older generation of horses.  Davona Dale was a monster who would have won the Derby.  Princess Rooney was stellar and needs to get more respect.  Bold n Determined was the best 3 yr old of her year.  But Susan's Girl must be ranked at the top."

29 Apr 2009 10:22 AM
JW

Goodbye Halo smacked Winning Colors twice before the derby.  Her connections picked the wrong race.

29 Apr 2009 12:07 PM
LACS70

Correction on my post: The Filly Triple Tiara is the Kentucky Oaks, the Black-Eyed Susan, and the CCA Oaks. Got my stakes races crossed!

29 Apr 2009 12:33 PM
GunBow

I wasnt around when she raced, but I have Susan's Girl #1 as well. In fact, I think she may be the greatest female ever, or at least one of the top 5.

This was a brutal list to decide from. So many great fillies. I think Goodbye Halo is one of the most underrated horses ever, a winner of 7 grade 1 races, but I could rate her no higher than #8. Open Mind had a 10 race winning streak w/ 7 grade 1s including the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies + Kentucky Oaks + Acorn + Mother Goose + Coaching Club Oaks + Alabama, and I have her 7th (Bayakoa kind of exposed her later that year). However, I really think there is not much separating Open Mind, Silverbulletday, Bold N' Determined, and Davona Dale.

I'm fairly solid with Susan's Girl #1, Princess Rooney #2, and Rags to Riches #3, and then Goodbye Halo #8, Lite Light #9 and Ashado #10. I respect Ashado, but she came from a weak crop and never really ran fast. Lite Light was sensational for about a 6 race span, but did nothing after her awesome Coaching Club score.

You now who is really flattered by this list? Bayakoa. Bayakoa ruined Open Mind's 10 race winning streak in 1989 by going to Open Mind's home track of Belmont and simply running her off her feet by 3.75 lengths. Bayakoa beat her again the same margin in the Breeders Cup Disatff.  

Earlier in 1989, Bayakoa had been pitted in a "rivalry" with Goodbye Halo. Goodbye Halo won the 87' grade 1 Demoiselle and Hollywood Starlet at 2, beat Winning Colors in the grade 1 Las Virgines early in 88' before going on to win the Kentucky Oaks, Mother Goose, and Coaching Club Oaks. At the end of 88', she ran a strong 3rd, as the forgotten horse, in the 88' Breeders Cup Distaff less than a length behind Personal Ensign and Winning Colors. She carried her form into her 4 year old season winning the grade 2 El Encino and grade 1 La Canada.

Then, Goodbye Halo ran into Bayakoa. Bayakoa beat her by 2   in the Santa Margarita (GHalo 2nd but 5.5 lengths clear of 3rd place horse), by 4 in the Apple Blossom (GHalo 2nd but 9 clear of 3rd place horse), by 4.5 lengths in the Hawthorne Cap (GHalo 2nd but 3.5 lengths clear of 3rd place horse), and 8.5 lengths in the Vanity (GHalo 3rd, 3.5 lengths behind 2nd place horse). Goodbye Halo got revenge when she won the Chula Vista as Bayakoa bombed and ran 6th, but Bayakoa beat her by 11.5 lengths in the Spinster (GHalo 2nd).

Bayakoa absolutely destroyed, in all but 1 race, 2 exceptional fillies. Open Mind and Goodbye Halo both won 7 grade 1 races, and had been close to dominant before meeting Bayakoa. However, Bayakoa made them look absolutely average. I have both Open Mind and Goodbye Halo near the bottom of the list, but I wonder if I'm being too hard on them. How well would Silverbulletday or even Rags to Riches would have fared against the pure speed of Bayakoa?

29 Apr 2009 1:25 PM
Jay V

Very good group of 10 fillies, but allow me to give a shout out to the most glaring ommision, one of all time favs, Fran's Valentine.  I'd rank her ahead of three that were included.

29 Apr 2009 1:36 PM
Bill

Can't argue with the thought that Susan's Girl should be higher on the list.  She was an iron mare who rarely if ever ran an "off" race.  I have a feeling that if this poll were conducted a year from now the name of Rachel Alexandra would be on somebody's list.  We ought to see quite a show on Friday as this edition of the Oaks features two fillies who may be the best in many years.  I see where Finley is confident in Justwhistlindixie and who can blame him, but Rachel is just in another league.  Maybe, one of the great ones...

29 Apr 2009 2:57 PM
Leroy

Princess Rooney without a doubt. She was great. She won 17 out of 21 starts and was only off the board once.

29 Apr 2009 5:11 PM
lobieb

It was a great list but I had to put Princess Rooney lst with Susan's Girl second and Rags for third, heck what do I know.

29 Apr 2009 6:55 PM
trackjack

Susan's Girl on top.  I was blessed to be at her Oaks in 1972, back when you could sit in the grandstand for regular price. She was flashy, full of grit, had her field measured and won with authority.  Her future exploits only confirmed her class.  Rags to Riches next, a true champion, dominating her Oaks field and confirming her class besting Curlin in the mile and a half Belmont.  

29 Apr 2009 8:26 PM
Smarie

I wonder why Rags To Riches wasn't voted Horse of the Year 2 years ago? People always complain that champion fillies don't run against the males. Well, she did, and she defeated one of the best in Curlin, but that still wasn't enough to get her HOY. The voting is very prejudiced there and should be entirely re-vamped. Too many excellent horses haven't received any awards because of voter bias. The good 'ol boys system is alive and well in the upper crust of racing.

29 Apr 2009 10:23 PM
Patty

How can Ashado be this far down the list. She was a great mare and was very good. I voted for Rags to riches as my first choice with Ashado a very close second.

30 Apr 2009 10:32 AM
Jennifer

Davona Dale, because she was that great.  Then, Princess Rooney, Susan's Girl, and Bold N Determined. But who's to say, one person's No. 1, is another person's No, 2, 3, 4 or 5. These are some nice fillies.    

01 May 2009 1:34 PM
Springsmom83

For me, the bottom 6 are really equal.  I had to rank them, but they were all really spectacular fillies.  Rags and Silverbulletday are really memorable inrecent history but I saw several of the older fillies run.  What a treat!  Davona Dale was a fabulous tribuite to Calumet Farm's breeding program.  Susan's Girl was AWESOME!  Open Mind and Goodbye Halo, how do you really separate them?  Tough choices!

01 May 2009 6:54 PM
ABZ

Bold n' Determined 7th ???  A tough race but I pick the Princess.  What a filly she was!

16 Aug 2009 9:32 PM
kirk

If ur a real horseman you just can't deny the heart of Bold n Determined when she beat Genuine Risk. They hooked heads, nose to nose from the three quarters pole to the wire. Possibily the best finish other than Affirmed and Alydar in the `78 Belmont. Hey ! Bloodhorse where's that video (b n Determined). WHAT A RACE !

30 Mar 2011 6:46 PM

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