Secret Oath could make Preakness start

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said 3-year-old filly Secret Oath was nominated to the Triple Crown with the Preakness (G1) in mind. Secret Oath finished third with a challenging trip in the Arkansas Derby (G1) in her first start against males.

“We had no intention of running in the [Kentucky] Derby; running a mile and a quarter, 20-horse field,” Lukas said. “Whether you could make a case or not that she’s one of the better 3-year-olds in the country — which you can — we had no intention of that.

“We were running in the Arkansas Derby because the race was [worth] $1.25 million. That in itself was the incentive,” he added. “If she had won the Arkansas Derby, we’d have not run in the Kentucky Derby. We were pretty adamant that we were going to run in the [Kentucky] Oaks and have the best filly in the country.”

The Preakness, set for May 21 at historic Pimlico Race Course, is another matter.

“That’s what the nomination was for,” Lukas said. “That’s what we thought: If we have a big Oaks, now we cut back in distance. We go to a 14-horse field versus 20. We go on a different surface, tight turns, where speed would be good. It changes the whole game when you go to the Preakness.”

Lukas has won the Preakness six times, most recently with Calumet Farm’s Oxbow in 2013. The Preakness also gave Lukas his first Triple Crown victory, that coming with Codex in 1980.

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“I have good luck at the Preakness,” said Lukas, who also has won the Derby and Belmont Stakes four times apiece. “I always have had.”

Secret Oath, by champion Arrogate, won the Martha Washington and Honeybee (G3) this winter at Oaklawn prior to the April 2 Arkansas Derby, her most recent start. She ranks with 80 points for the May 6 Oaks.