Secret Oath parlays perfect trip into Kentucky Oaks glory
A clean trip made all the difference for Secret Oath in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs. Benefiting from a perfect ride under Luis Saez, the talented three-year-old filly unleashed an impressive rally to win the $1.25 million prize with authority.
Sent off as the 44-10 second choice off a troubled third-place finish against males in the Arkansas Derby (G1), Secret Oath enjoyed an unencumbered journey while returning to the sophomore filly ranks. With Saez in the saddle for the first time, Secret Oath broke smoothly from post 1 and dropped back to midfield early on, racing by herself as longshot Yuugiri barreled to the lead through quick fractions of :22.45 and :46.51.
As the pace slowed down through six furlongs in 1:11.44, Secret Oath shifted outside for clear racing room, avoiding traffic as the field bunched up. Then Saez allowed Secret Oath to unleash a sweeping rally around the far turn, challenging for command as the field entered the homestretch.
Undefeated champion two-year-old filly Echo Zulu attempted to fight back from a pace-pressing position, but Secret Oath had all the momentum, pulling away to lead clearly in midstretch. Even while drifting down toward the inner rail, Secret Oath held sway under urging form Saez, reaching the finish line two lengths clear in the final time of 1:49.44 for 1 1/8 miles.
Nest, favored at 24-10 in the betting, rallied late to finish second over 50-1 longshot Desert Dawn. Echo Zulu held for fourth, followed by Kathleen O., Shahama, Turnerloose, Cocktail Moments, Candy Raid, Nostalgic, Goddess of Fire, Hidden Connection, Yuugiri, and Venti Valentine.
A homebred for Robert and Stacy Mitchell's Briland Farm, Secret Oath is conditioned by 86-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who secured a record-equaling fifth victory in the Kentucky Oaks. Lukas also trained Secret Oath’s dam, the Grade 1-placed Quiet American mare Absinthe Minded.
Secret Oath, a daughter of champion Arrogate, paid $10.80 to win, $5.60 to place, and $4.60 to show. Nest returned $4.20 to place and $3.20 to show, while Desert Dawn triggered a hefty $15.40 show payoff. The $2 exacta paid $39.40, the 50-cent trifecta $308.40, the $1 superfecta $3,238.40, and the $1 Super High 5 $7,511.30.