The fillies who run in the Kentucky Oaks are getting a raise. Churchill Downs announced Friday the purse for the 2011 Oaks will be $1 million. That's double the purse offered for the runners in last year's race.
The filly version of the Kentucky Derby has forged an identity of its own in recent years behind the superstar performances of 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and 2007 Belmont Stakes winner Rags to Riches.
The Oaks will be run on May 6, 2011, the day before the Run for the Roses.
Other changes from last year for Churchill's Spring Meet include:
■ Purses were increased for the Grade II Navistar ($250,000 to $300,000-added); the Grade III Alysheba ($150,000-added to $300,000-added); and the Grade II American Turf ($175,000 to $200,000-added)
■ Purses will be lower for the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap, which carries a purse of $500,000-added, a reduction of $100,000; and the Grade II La Troienne, which drops by $100,000 to $300,000-added.
■ The race previously known as the Northern Dancer is now named the Matt Winn, in honor of the legendary president of Churchill Downs.
■ Four races — the Grade II Fleur De Lis, Grade III Kentucky Juvenile, the Grade III Locust Grove Handicap and the race previously known as the Matt Winn — will go on hiatus for this year.
■ The Edgewood, a $100,000-added turf race for 3-year-old fillies at 11⁄16 miles, returns after a one-year hiatus and will be run on Kentucky Oaks Day.
Albarado to have surgery
Jockey Robby Albarado, who broke his heel in a pre-race accident Jan. 2 at New Orleans' Fair Grounds Race Course, says he's scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday.
Albarado told the Times-Picayune on Friday that doctors at Tulane Medical Center are going to "insert a little plate and a couple of screws."
There's no timetable for his return. But he said he's not in any rush. He said he just wants to get back in time for a "good spring campaign."