LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Barely 12 hours after winning his fifth Kentucky Oaks (G1) with Briland Farm’s Secret Oath, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, at age 86, was back on his pony leading his horses out to train Saturday starting at 5:15 a.m. He reported that his star filly came out of the race well and now has several options ahead of her, including the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (GII) and Preakness Stakes (GI) May 20 and 21, respectively at Pimlico.
“She bounced back very quickly last night and she’s very sharp here this morning,” Lukas said. “Looks very good. We’re tickled to see her come out of that tough race and to be bouncing around here this morning. She’s excellent.
“I’m going to let a few days go by and then I’ll get with (owner) Rob Mitchell. I’ll let him have an opinion. The Preakness is an option, but so is the Black-Eyed Susan. The big difference is a million dollars and a Grade 1. Would be nice to get her a second Grade 1.
“She ran a picture-perfect race, a beautiful trip. It kind of went the way we had mapped it out. When (jockey) Luis (Saez) moved into position down the backstretch, I told Laurie (wife) that we were going to be OK.”
Lukas scratched his Kentucky Derby entry Ethereal Road on Friday and said the Preakness might also be a possibility for him.
“I thought if I ran him today (in the Derby), I’d have no shot of going on with him,” Lukas said. “I have run him a lot between Oaklawn and Keeneland. I didn’t think he’d win, so I took him out and now we have the option of the Preakness.”
NEST, SHAHAMA, GODDESS OF FIRE – “They all came back well. Everyone ate up.”
The report from the Todd Pletcher barn following the 148th running of the Kentucky Oaks was just what you’d want to hear following the running of a big race. In this case it wasn’t one horse, but three, that the Hall of Fame conditioner was reporting on.
His trio of runners acquitted themselves well in the nine-furlong Grade I headliner, finishing second (Nest), sixth (Shahama) and 11th (Goddess of Fire) in the distaff classic. Each had varying degrees of trouble along the way, but all returned to the barn safe and sound and will live to race another day.
The Oaks winner was Secret Oath trained by 86-year-old D. Wayne Lukas, who was Pletcher’s mentor and the guy who gave him his start in the game. Pletcher saluted him in quotes immediately after the race and made a point to catch up to him and give him a big hug of congratulations in the aftermath of the headliner.
As to his threesome’s future plans, they’re to be decided.
“They’re all likely to be headed up to New York,” the conditioner said. “We’ve got to do some checking on flight schedules, but they’ll be headed out in the next little while.”
DESERT DAWN – Exercise rider Roman Cecher was overseeing business at 5:15 Saturday morning at Barn 43 where H and E Ranch’s Desert Dawn had set up shop this past week in anticipation of her start in Friday’s $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Trainer Phil D’Amato was exhilarated after the running with his charge’s third-place finish, worth $113,750 to her connections. She finished 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Secret Oathand just a half-length back of second-place Nest.
“She came back from the race really well,” Cecher said. “She ate everything up last night. The filly ran huge for us and we through she was going to get second. Everybody was very pleased.”
Plans for Desert Dawn – as well as several other horses D’Amato brought in from California – were to be decided.
ECHO ZULU – Plans are to be determined for L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Echo Zulu, who suffered her first career setback with her fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks.
KATHLEEN O. – Winngate Stables’ Kathleen O. came out of her fifth-place Kentucky Oaks finish well according to assistant Anthony Hamilton. Plans for Kathleen O. are to be determined.
TURNERLOOSE – Dawn and Ike Thrash’s Turnerloose exited her seventh-place finish in the Oaks in good order, according to trainer to Brad Cox. Her next start will be determined at a later date.
COCKTAIL MOMENTS – Trainer Kenny McPeek said Dixiana Farms’ Cocktail Moments, who finished a tiring eighth in the Longines Kentucky Oaks, came out of the race in good shape.
“We’re going to regroup and plan our next move,” he said.
CANDY RAID – Trainer and co-owner Keith Desormeaux said of ninth-place Kentucky Oaks finisher Candy Raid, “She looks great today. We are looking forward to a big summer.”
Exercise rider Alex Cano said, “Candy Raid tried hard yesterday. She was last but then she was coming late. She had some traffic to fight through that slowed her down.”
NOSTALGIC – Kentucky Oaks 10th place finisher Nostalgic was back in Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s Barn 19 Saturday morning.
The Gazelle (GIII) winner encountered trouble around the far turn and, once again, at the head of the stretch. Her next race plans were not immediately known.
HIDDEN CONNECTION – All was well with Hidden Connection after her disappointing 12thplace finish in Friday’s Oaks.
For jockey Rey Gutierrez, it was his first-time riding in the Oaks, and he reflected on the opportunity.
“It was so amazing to be on this stage and I’m so grateful to Hidden Connection, Bret (Calhoun) and her owners for allowing me to be in this position,” Gutierrez said. “It wasn’t the result we were all hoping for, but I know we’ll be back and we’ll be better.”
YUUGIRI – Trainer Rodolphe Brisset reported that Yuugiri, 13th of 14, came out of the race well and would be returning his base at Keeneland to “regroup.”
VENTI VALENTINE – Plans are still fluid for NY Final Furlong Racing Stable and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Venti Valentine, trainer Jorge Abreu said Saturday morning.
“She came out of the race OK, she had a few cuts on her legs but nothing serious,” he said about the Gazelle (GIII) runner-up, who was last in the field of 14.
Churchill Downs Communications
Photo by Coady Photography