McPeek Taking Another Shot with Creative Minister

May 20, 2022

Lukas: ‘We’d just like a smooth trip’ for Secret Oath

BALTIMORE, Md.—Kenny McPeek knows something about taking shots in big races, as he will be doing at Pimlico Race Course Saturday when Creative Minister makes his stakes debut in the $1.65 million Preakness Stakes (G1).

Rated fifth at 10-1 in the morning line, Creative Minister is coming off an allowance victory on the May 7 Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard at Churchill Downs.

Taking a shot was how the Kentucky-based trainer obtained his two victories in the Triple Crown series. McPeek captured the 2002 Belmont Stakes (G1) with Sarava, who came off a victory in the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard to produce a $142.50 win mutuel, a record for the Triple Crown finale. McPeek won the COVID-delayed Preakness in October of 2020, when the filly Swiss Skydiver outdueled Kentucky Derby winner Authentic by a neck.

“What is it Wayne Gretzky said? ‘You never make a shot you don’t take,’” he said. “I’ve taken a couple of them and hit it, between Sarava and Swiss. Look, that’s the fun of the sport. It’s great being involved in these kinds of things. If you feel like you’ve got a legitimate chance to just hit the board, you can’t be scared, because a lot happens.”

With Creative Minister breaking from Post #2, McPeek envisions jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. tucking in behind the speed.

“I don’t think he has any choice,” McPeek said. “But as far as guessing [how the race will unfold], I gave up that years ago.

“Early Voting is going to be close. I think he’s going to need to slow the pace down to win. But is Epicenter going to allow him to do that? Once we leg ’em up, it’s out of our hands. I’ve seen some crazy stuff.”

Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

Lukas: ‘We’d just like a smooth trip’ for Secret Oath

Briland Farm’s filly Secret Oath went out to the track Friday morning for what trainer D. Wayne Lukas called “light training” the day before the 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course.

Lukas smiled when an interviewer asked how the winner of the Kentucky Oaks (G1) was doing on the eve of Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

“She better be feeling good because it’s a tough spot,” Lukas said.

The chestnut daughter of the late sire Arrogate has five wins in eight races. She is aiming to become the seventh filly to win the Preakness. The most recent was Swiss Skydiver in 2020. Secret Oath is rated at 9-2 in the morning line and will start from Post #4.

Lukas, 86, did not reveal much about his strategy for the race as he seeks his record-tying seventh win in the Preakness. He said he will leave it in the hands of Luis Saez, who he has used in many stakes races through the years.

“Every trainer will tell you the same thing: just a good trip so that you’re able to do what you’d like to do, instead of what they dictate to you,” Lukas said. “The race will dictate what you can do or can’t do, but every one of us as trainers are going say we’d just like that smooth trip.”

Secret Oath’s past-performance lines show that she has been effective sitting off the pace early on and then zipping up into contention on the second turn.

“She has a devastating kick,” Lukas said. “When you ask her, she really accelerates. She’s got a tremendous turn of foot. If we can just clock them a little bit.”

Lukas won the first of his six Preaknesses in 1980 with his first starter in the race, Codex. His most recent victory was in 2013 with Oxbow 

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo: Creative Minister strolls through the stakes barn. (Jerry Dziewinski/MJC)

@jonathanstettin Well done per usual. A true horseplayer who can articulate nicely #keepitup.

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