The 2017 Group 1 Crown Oaks (2500m) will take place at Flemington Racecourse on Thursday, November 9.
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Three-year-old fillies compete in the Crown Oaks which is held during the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. To be more precise, it is a part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival which is a four-day carnival held at Flemington.
Crown Oaks Day is the third of the four days and is staged on a Thursday; it is held two days after the Melbourne Cup.
Contested under set weights conditions, all fillies carry 55.5kg in the prestigious Group 1 which sees the superior stayer prevail.
It is the female equivalent of the Victoria Derby (2500m), which is also held during the Melbourne Cup Carnival; Derby Day is the opening day and held on the Saturday before the Melbourne Cup.
The Crown Oaks is the showpiece of Ladies Day – which as the name implies, is a race day that focuses on fashion and fine food to attract a vibrant group of the two-legged fillies.
With $1 million in prizemoney on offer, up to 16 of the best fillies (plus four emergencies) can battle over a trip they have yet to encounter in their brief racing careers to date.
It was most recently won by the Lee Curtis-trained Lasqueti Spirit who entered the race as a maiden from nine career starts. She led all of the way at odds of $101 and jockey Brenton Avdulla bowed to the crowd once he knew the race was sown up; Lasqueti Spirit would win by 3.75 lengths.
Formerly known as the VRC Oaks, the race dates back to 1861 when Palestine won the first ever classic; the race has been won by some star fillies in its long and illustrious history which includes becoming a Group 1 in 1979.
Among the names on the illustrious honour roll are Light Fingers (1964), Surround (1976), Rose Of Kingston (1981), Research (1988), Spirit Of Kingston (1994), Kensington Palace (1997), Magical Miss (2001), Special Harmony (2003), Miss Finland (2006), Samantha Miss (2008), Faint Perfume (2009), Mosheen (2011) and Jameka (2015).
Runners in the Crown Oaks will typically have contested the key lead up race, the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, a 2000m race staged on Victoria Derby Day on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington on the Saturday before.
The Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m), run at Caulfield Racecourse earlier in the Spring Carnival is also a good guide and one which many fillies take en route to the Crown Oaks.
Brazilian Pulse was the last filly to achieve the Wakeful Stakes-Crown Oaks double in 2010 with Hollow Bullet (2004), Serenade Rose (2005) and Faint Perfume (2009) others to achieve the feat in recent years.
The last horse to take out the Crown Oaks having landed the Thousand Guineas was Miss Finland in 2006. Jameka finished second in the Thousand Guineas before her triumph in 2015. She would then capture the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) in 2016.
Along with a top-class day of racing, Crown Oaks Day is equally busy off the track with Fashions on the Field competitions taking place to crown the best dressed racegoers.
The concept was first introduced in 1962 to attract women to the racecourse and it has certainly grown in popularity with Crown Oaks Day being one of the fastest growing in crowd size.
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