The Oaks Stakes is a Group 1 flat horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old fillies. It is run at Epsom Downs over a distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs and 6 yards (2,420 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in late May or early June. It is the second-oldest of the five Classic races, after the St Leger. Officially the Investec Oaks, it is also popularly known as simply The Oaks. (Increasingly it is coming to be referred to as the Epsom Oaks in both the UK and overseas countries, although 'Epsom' is not part of the official title of the race.)
|Group 1 race|
1801 Oaks winner Eleanor
|Race type||Flat / Thoroughbred|
|Distance||1m 4f 6y (2,420 m)|
|Weight||9 st 0 lb|
|Lupe||State Pension||Arctic Wave|
|Sleeping Partner||Frontier Goddess||Myastrid|
|La Lagune||Glad One||Pandora Bay|
|Pia||St. Pauli Girl||Ludham|
It is the third of Britain's five Classic races to be held during the season, and the second of two restricted to fillies. It can also serve as the middle leg of the Fillies' Triple Crown, preceded by the 1000 Guineas and followed by the St Leger, although the feat of winning all three is rarely attempted.
The event is named after The Oaks, an estate located to the east of Epsom which was leased to the 12th Earl of Derby in the 18th century. He and his guests devised the race during a party at the estate in 1778. It was first run (as the Oakes Stakes) in 1779, one year before the introduction of the Derby Stakes. The inaugural winner, Bridget, was owned by Lord Derby himself.
The Oaks subsequently became one of Britain's leading events for three-year-olds. By the mid-1860s, the five leading events for this age group were referred to as "Classics". The concept was later adopted in many other countries.
European variations of the Oaks include the Irish Oaks, the Preis der Diana, the Prix de Diane and the Oaks d'Italia. Other national equivalents include the AJC Oaks, the New Zealand Oaks and the Yushun Himba.
During both World Wars the race was run at Newmarket under the title the New Oaks Stakes. The 2014 running incorporated the name of Sir Henry Cecil in its title. Cecil, who died in June 2013, trained eight Oaks winners between 1985 and 2007.
Leading jockey (9 wins):
- Frank Buckle – Nike (1797), Bellissima (1798), Bellina (1799), Scotia (1802), Theophania (1803), Meteora (1805), Neva (1817), Corinne (1818), Zinc (1823)
Leading trainer (13 wins):
- Robert Robson – Scotia (1802), Pelisse (1804), Meteora (1805), Briseis (1807), Morel (1808), Maid of Orleans (1809), Music (1813), Minuet (1815), Landscape (1816), Corinne (1818), Pastille (1822), Zinc (1823), Wings (1825)
Leading owner (7 wins): (includes part ownership)
- Susan Magnier – Shahtoush (1998), Imagine (2001), Alexandrova (2006), Was (2012), Minding (2016), Forever Together (2018), Love (2020)
- Fastest winning time (at Epsom) – Love (2020), 2m 34.06s
- Widest winning margin – Sun Princess (1983), 12 lengths
- Longest odds winners – Vespa (1833), Jet Ski Lady (1991) and Qualify (2015)
- Shortest odds winner – Pretty Polly (1904), 8/100
- Most runners – 26, in 1848
- Fewest runners – 4, in 1799 and 1904
- The race finished as a dead-heat in 1858, but Governess defeated Gildermire in a run-off
- Stony Ford finished first in 1918, but she was disqualified for causing interference to My Dear
- Aliysa was first in 1989, but she was later disqualified after testing positive for a banned substance
- The 2020 race was run in July due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Waterman, Jack (1999). The Punter's Friend. Harpenden, Herts, UK: Queen Anne Press. ISBN 1852916001.
- "The Oaks: Marvellous heads field of 17 entries for Epsom race". BBC Sport. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
- Church, Michael (2015). The Oaks Stakes: The History - The Winners - Their Breeding 1779-2015. Raceform. p. 256. ISBN 978-1-910498-28-6.
- Church, Michael (2018). The Oaks Chart 1778-2017. Michael Church. pp. 1 A2.
- Racing Post:
- Abelson, Edward; John Tyrrel (1993). The Breedon Book of Horse Racing Records. Breedon Books. pp. 58–64. ISBN 1-873626-15-0.
- Randall, John; Tony Morris (1985). Horse Racing: The Records. Guinness Superlatives Ltd. pp. 43–56. ISBN 0-85112-446-1.