86 years young, D. Wayne Lukas wins his fifth Kentucky Oaks, this time with the Arrogate filly Secret Oath
Briland Farm’s homebred Secret Oath made a five-wide sweeping move on the far turn and then collared Echo Zulu at the three-sixteenths pole en route to a 2-length victory over favored Nest in the 148th running of the $1,250,000 Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) for 3-year-old fillies Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs before a crowd of 100,188.
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Luis Saez, Secret Oath completed the mile and an eighth on a track listed as good in 1:49.44.
The victory is the fifth in the race for Lukas and ties him with Woody Stephens for the most Oaks triumphs. Lukas’ other winners were Blush With Pride (1982), Lucky Lucky Lucky (1984), Open Mind (1989) and Seaside Attraction (1990).
It is the first Oaks victory for Saez.
Longshot Yuugiri and the undefeated Echo Zulu rocketed to the front from the gate and led the field of 14 through early fractions of :22.45 and :46.51.
In the run down the backstretch, Saez has Secret Oath outside of horses and in eighth. Approaching the far turn, Secret Oath began to pick off horses and by the time the field reached the top of the stretch, Secret Oath had moved to the outside of Echo Zulu and reached even terms.
Secret Oath assumed command at the three-sixteenths pole and opened a clear advantage that was more than enough to hold off Nest who rallied for second over Desert Dawn.
Secret Oath, bred in Kentucky by Stacy and Rob Mitchell, is a daughter of Arrogate out of the Quiet American mare Absinthe Minded. The winner’s share was $705,250 and boosted Secret Oath’s bankroll to $1,288,417 with a record of 8-5-0-2.
Secret Oath returned $10.80, $5.60 and $4.60. Nest, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., returned $4.20 and $3.20 and finished a half-length in front of Desert Dawn who paid $15.40 to show under Umberto Rispoli.
It was another half-length back to Echo Zulu who was followed in order by Kathleen O., Shahama, Turnerloose, Cocktail Moments, Candy Raid, Nostalgic, Goddess of Fire, Hidden Connection, Yuugiri and Venti Valentine.
Jockey Quotes from the Kentucky Oaks
Luis Saez, jockey of Secret Oath (First) – “A few weeks ago my agent (Kiaran McLaughlin) told me we were likely going to ride Secret Oath. Then, when he told me one day that I need to work her, I drove here from Keeneland and she blew my mind. I’ve ridden a lot of good fillies but none in my life like this one. I’m so glad to be here and blessed to win my first Kentucky Oaks.”
Irad Ortiz Jr., jockey of Nest (Second) – “She did everything right and ended up pretty well. She just got beat and was trying hard late. She’s a very professional horse and happy with her performance today.”
Umberto Rispoli, jockey of Desert Dawn (Third) – “I wasn’t surprised. We were underestimated since she won the Santa Anita Oaks in a five-horse field. The dirt we have at Santa Anita is different than the dirt we have here in Kentucky. I was thinking she would go further and that’s what happened. Down the lane she put on a huge performance and she fought hard until the wire. After this race she will improve and God bless her when she arrives to be a 4-year-old. She will be a tremendous filly.”
Joel Rosario, jockey of Echo Zulu (Fourth) – “She did well and came out of there running. Florent (Geroux) looked like she was going to the lead (on Yuugiri). She relaxed just perfectly right behind. I thought she did everything she could.”
Javier Castellano, jockey of Kathleen O. (Fifth) – “Coming from behind is her running style. She couldn’t keep up with the fast early pace but I like the way she came from behind horses. She just did not have the ‘punch’ today.”
Flavien Prat, jockey of Shahama (sixth) – “I thought she ran a really great race. It was hard to get a trip from that draw but I thought she ran well.”
Corey Laneire, jockey of Cocktail Moments (Eighth) – “She ran great. She ran her eyeballs out. It was just a tougher race for her but she gave us her best. I had a good trip.”
Rafael Bejarano, jockey of Candy Raid (Ninth) – “She ran good but no excuse. She loved the track and I liked the way she was running. I had a little bad luck at the half-mile pole but by the three-eighths pole, when there was bumping going on, I was in bad position.”
Jose Ortiz, jockey of Nostalgic (10th) – “The first half of the race, I was traveling so nicely and I saving a lot of ground. I was happy with my position. I was following Irad (Ortiz) on Nest. In the second part of the race, from the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole, the guy in front of me came out and I had to check pretty hard. My filly is big and it took time to recover.”
John Velazqeuz, jockey of Goddess of Fire (11th) – “I was in trouble in the first turn. That was it. Out of the gate she spun her wheels just a little bit and that was it. She just really couldn’t run her best.”
Rey Gutierrez, jockey of Hidden Connection (12th) – “I was in a great spot. I thought she had responded to me. When she backed up, Secret Oath was able to come down and tighten it up. Nest was able to take my spot as well. We were in the golden seat but hopefully we can rally next time.”
Florent Geroux, jockey of Yuugiri (13th) – “She didn’t run that good obviously. She only beat one horse but she broke well, went forward the way she likes to run but Echo Zulu was pushing me early on. I tried to slow her down a bit down the backside but it wasn’t enough to catch her breath. The race was over for by the final turn.”
Tyler Gaffalione, jockey of Venti Valentine (14th) – “Had a perfect trip, laid just off the speed going into the final turn but we just did not have much run down the stretch.”
Trainer Quotes From The 148th Running Of The Longines Kentucky Oaks
D. Wayne Lukas, trainer of Secret Oath (First) – “I thought the race unfolded like we expected. Being in the one hole we didn’t have much choice on what to do. I told Luis (Saez) that down the backside to get into position. When I saw him moving around the turn and I turned and hugged my wife and said ‘here we go.’ It feels great. I’ve said all week, as trainers we think it’s us. After you win one, the real satisfaction is for the (owners) who raised her and let them have the opportunity to enjoy this and get the thrill.”
Todd Pletcher, trainer of Nest (Second), Shahama (Sixth), Goddess of Fire (11th) – “I’m really happy for Wayne. If I couldn’t win this race, I was rooting for him. Irad (Ortiz Jr.) told me that he couldn’t get out the whole race. He had to wait and wait. When he finally got loose she ran big. (Shahama) Flavien (Prat) said she didn’t break well and he couldn’t get over inside during the race. He said he got bumped on the turn and she closed a bit. I think the post really hurt her. (Goddess of Fire) Johnny (Velazquez) said she didn’t care for the track at all.”
Phil D’Amato, trainer of Desert Dawn (Third) – “She ran her heart out for us. She even gave us a goosebump moment. But, in the end, it didn’t quite work out. We’re really proud of her.”
Steve Asmussen, trainer of Echo Zulu (Fourth) – “Congratulations to the winner. Lukas winning the Oaks was far better than anything I could ever do. It is a beautiful moment for Wayne, unbelievably deserving with a great mare.”
Shug McGaughey, trainer of Kathleen O. (Fifth) – “They were going pretty fast up front and she made a pretty big run around the turn but didn’t have enough.”
Brad Cox, trainer of Turnerloose (Seventh) – “I was very happy to see Wayne win. It was very exciting, and I was really rooting for him late in the race after I watched my filly and saw that she wasn’t going to win it. I turned my attention to the leaders, he (Lukas) was in front at that point. It was an exciting race. I was very happy for Wayne. Will I be winning the Oaks at 86? I sure as hell hope so. I just hope maybe to have a runner in the Oaks at 86. Turnerloose came out of the race fine, so far. She ran a respectable race. Proud of the effort. We’ll see what happens going forward.”
Kenny McPeek, trainer of Cocktail Moments (Eighth) – “I thought that Corey (Lanerie) rode her perfectly, and as I’ve said it was a big step up. I liked her race for the most part, and I thought that after her finish in the Ashland (second to Nest), that she deserved a shot. It looks like she came out of the race in good shape, so we’ll regroup and go on from here.”
Keith Desormeaux, trainer of Candy Raid (Ninth) – “You could see them going fast up front. Rafael (Bejarano) tried to get into a position around the turn but wasn’t able to be in the best spot.”
Bill Mott, trainer of Nostalgic (10th) – “Jose (Ortiz) told me that he clipped heels at the three-eighths pole with (Kathleen O.) Obviously that didn’t help anything. I need to look at the replay and I will have a better understanding of what happened.”
Bret Calhoun, trainer of Hidden Connection (12th) – “She was in great position the entire way. We were where we wanted to be, but we didn’t have enough horse to continue on. It got tight in there in the turn, but if she was a good enough horse, she could have continued on at that point. It just wasn’t her day today.”
Rodolphe Brisset, trainer of Yuugiri (13th) – “She seems to have come back good. It was probably just a distance she doesn’t want any part of. Flo (Geroux) did a great job. We’ll get her home and regroup now. Just a little fast and a little too far.”
Jorge Abreu, trainer of Venti Valentine (14th) – “There was a lot of bumping around, and she caught a lot of it. But she did all right. She’ll be OK going forward.”
Churchill Downs Press Release
Photo: Coady Photography