After long journey, Utah-trained Where’s My Ring will run the Kentucky Oaks

May 3, 2024, 11:25 AM | Updated: 11:47 am

FILE: Serengeti Empress #13, ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, leads the field around the final turn on ...

FILE: Serengeti Empress #13, ridden by jockey Jose Ortiz, leads the field around the final turn on his way to winning the 145th running of the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs In May 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

LOUISVILLE, Kent. — While not as famous as the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks is billed as America’s premier race for 3-year-old female horses. Now a horse known as Where’s My Ring, who was trained right here in Utah, will compete in the 150th running of The Oaks.

Where’s My Ring started her horse racing training at the Washington County Equestrian Center in St. George, Utah.

“We start them out in St. George in September after we buy them,” said trainer Val Brinkerhoff. “You can’t bring them into the racetrack at Santa Anita until February.”


Brinkerhoff said the horses are brought back to St. George if something happens to them, like if they get hurt. 

Not hurt, but many physical problems

“She really never got hurt,” Brinkerhoff said. “She just was kind of sick all the time. It just took us a long time to figure it out and we had to get her in good enough shape so she could run these longer distances. I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom of how far she can run yet.”

Brinkerhoff said Where’s My Ring has had several problems, including ulcers. But it all started when her vet told Brinkerhoff he was concerned about colic.

“I left her there for four days and when we went back to get her she had an infection in the main artery in her neck,” said Brinkerhoff. “We gave her some time off. Then we decided to check her for ulcers. We x-rayed her stomach and her stomach was just covered with ulcers. I mean, just the worst anybody had ever seen around there.”

Brinkerhoff says they got her on medication for the stomach ulcers, and then after they got her healthy, she started performing really well.

The owner rented an airplane to fly Where’s My Ring to New York so she could race at the track at Belmont.

“She won,” Brinkherhoff said. “[Then] we put her in a van and headed her down to Kentucky.”

Obstacles kept piling up

Brinkerhoff flew home to get all the racing equipment and then drove straight to Kentucky —  a 26-hour drive. But he said the drama still wasn’t over — the jockey that rode Where’s My Ring in New York got injured.

“He had a horse fall with him last week and knocked him out,” said Brinkerhoff. “I was going take him off the horse, but he gave us such a perfect ride in New York. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll leave him on and if he can’t ride his mount in New York on Thursday, then I’ll have to get somebody else.'”

Sure enough, Brinkerhoff had to get someone else.

“He couldn’t pass the concussion test in New York,” he said. “So now I’m without a jockey. But I’ve had 15 or 20 calls, everybody wanting to ride this filly because she’s doing so good right now. We ended up with a very good jockey one of the best of all time, [he] won the Belmont last year. He’s in the Hall of Fame.”

Who they got is Javier Castellano. Brinkerhoff said they’re lucky to have ended up with someone just as good as their first rider.

Good in dirt, but in rain?

Brinkerhoff says they’ve beaten all the other horses running in The Oaks on a dry track, but the forecast at Churchill Downs is calling for rain.

“We’ve never run on a muddy track and some of them have so that can make a huge difference,” she said. “We beat all them an aqueduct on a dry track.”

If Where’s My Ring wins The Oaks, she may have the chance to qualify for the Derby.

The race is scheduled to begin just before 4 p.m. MDT, on Friday.  The winner takes a purse of $1.5 million.

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After long journey, Utah-trained Where’s My Ring will run the Kentucky Oaks