SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – secret oath and Nestthe top two Kentucky Oaks 1st-year-olds on May 6 at Churchill Downs, will face off once more in Saturday’s 1st-year, Coaching Club American Oaks $500,000 for 3-year-old fillies running nine furlongs at the Saratoga Racetrack.
This year’s race marks only the third time in the last 25 years that Kentucky Oaks first and second have met again in the CCA Oaks. In the 2017 renewal, Abel Tasman built his Kentucky Oaks conquest with a lead score on Elate, while Oaks runner-up Daddys Lil Darling ran a non-threatening fifth. The exacta of the 1998 Kentucky Oaks was reversed in that year’s CCA Oaks when Banshee Breeze turned things around on Keeper Hill en route to Eclipse Prize honors at the end of the year.
A total of 14 fillies swept the Kentucky Oaks-CCA Oaks double, including Hall of Famers Princess Doreen dark mirage Dale Davona Bold and determined  and Ashado . Briland Farm’s Secret Oath will be looking to add its name to the elite company of legendary Hall of Fame coach D. Wayne Lukas, who earned the Kentucky Oaks-CCA Oaks double in 1989 with Hall of Famer Open Mind.
Secret Oath, an Arrogate daughter, has won 3 of 5 starts this season, capturing Oaklawn Park’s Martha Washington and 3rd grade Honeybee in addition to the Kentucky Oaks. His only two losses this year have come against men in Game 3 of the Arkansas Freshman Derby on April 15, two starts before running fourth in the Freshman Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico.
Secret Oath checked heavily inside the opening sixteenth of the Preakness and lost ground on the run the last 9 and four wide down the straight. She made up ground around the far bend in good position, but flattened out in the final furrow to finish 6 1/4 lengths behind early voting.
“The trip never happened. A filly like that racing against colts, you need a good trip,” said Lukas. “You can’t have all these troubles and be so far behind and still get over them. She needed a trip like she did in the Kentucky Oaks. I really thought she was the best horse, but you can’t mail her. You have to prove it every time.
In the Kentucky Oaks, Secret Oath was eighth down the straight under Luis Saez and started to make up ground as they approached the far corner of the four-to-five path. Secret Oath relied on their one-length advantage on the stretch call to beat the trailing Nest by two lengths.
The victory gave Lukas his fifth coup in Kentucky Oaks, putting him on a par with the late Hall of Famer Woody Stephens, and the first since 1990 Seaside Attraction.
“It’s the perfect race you want. Good walk. Good pace. Everything was perfect and we are looking for the same trip again,” said Lukas. “She trains so well; Luis knows her and it will be a smaller field. I think travel shouldn’t be a factor.
Secret Oath, a Kentucky Thoroughbred, is out of the winner of the double bet and multiple stakes placed by American mare Quiet Absinthe Minded, who was also trained by Lukas.
“She was a strong, solid race mare. I’m not surprised she produced this one because she was so strong and solid,” Lukas said. “She went out there and tried each time, maybe she was just a penny short of being a freshman winner, but obviously the crossover with Arrogate works.”
Saez, the 2021 Spa leader, will pilot Secret Oath from position 5.
Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gainesway Stable’s Nest also arrive at CCA Oaks after an effort against Colts in an American Classic when they are second to Mo Donegal in the 12-stage Freshman Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11 .
By Curlin, who sired CCA Oaks winner Curalina  and Paris Lights , Nest has a perfect record in the money of 4-2-1 through seven lifetime starts while never being beaten by more than three lengths. After a three-race juvenile campaign that was capped by a win in the Damsel Sophomore on Dec. 4 at Aqueduct, Nest began his sophomore season with a six-length romp at Suncoast of Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 12 before an 8 1/4 -long win in Grade 1 Ashland on April 8 at Keeneland.
Hall of Fame coach Todd Pletcher, who is targeting a record eighth win at the CCA Oaks, said he liked what he saw from Nest ahead of Saturday’s engagement. She flew over the Saratoga mainline on July 16, recording a move of five furlongs in 1:01.44.
“I think she overcame the track really well and seemed to be into it,” Pletcher said. “It was not a problem for her. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t need a certain type of surface and I’m not surprised he’s settled in here well.
Pletcher had considered waiting for Grade 1 Alabama on Aug. 20 in Saratoga, but said Nest bounced back from the Belmont in fine form.
“You always want to hope they come out of a race like that in good order. It was so well designed for the mile and a half that the race didn’t really cost him much,” Pletcher said. Almost everything she’s done since the Belmont has told us she’s ready to race now instead of waiting another month.”
Pletcher worked as an assistant under Lukas before going out on his own in 1997.
“I have huge respect for Wayne. I’ve always said I think he’s the greatest horse trainer of all time and I’m very happy for him that he’s having a great year,” said Pletcher: “That being said, we’re here to compete and we support Nest first, but if she can’t win, I’d be happy for Wayne if he did, but we definitely want to do our best. .”
Nest will break away from position 3 under Irad Ortiz, Jr., who rode the filly to her four wins.
Joining Secret Oath and Nest is a Kentucky Oaks alumna, Nostalgic, who will seek her first win as a freshman for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. By Medaglia d’Oro, who sired 2016 CCA Oaks winner Songbird, Nostalgic enters a troubled tenth in the Kentucky Oaks four weeks after a rail win in the Grade 3 Gazelle at Aqueduct. She made a triumphant career debut on the main Belmont track riding 1 1/16 miles to win by 7 3/4 lengths before finishing fourth behind Nest in the Grade 2 Damsel at Aqueduct.
Junior Alvarado will pilot Nostalgic from position 4.
Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen will saddle Society, which is unbeaten in three lifetime starts for owner/breeder Peter E. Blum Thoroughbreds. The Gun Runner daughter won 27-1 on her October career debut at Keeneland for coach Wayne Mackey before moving to the Asmussen barn.
On May 6, she beat staked, 1 3/4 length Ontheonesandtwos on a sloppy sealed Churchill Downs main track in an optional 6 1/2 furlong claimant before capturing the 1 1 1 /16 mile to pass it. first two-round test six weeks later at the Louisville Oval.
Asmussen said he was impressed with Society’s efforts.
“I think we have an improvement from that race and we will see that, but obviously we need a huge improvement,” Asmussen said. “She was a little too enthusiastic at the back after two one-lap races, but she’s a very smart filly and I think with the two-lap race she has stabilized and stretched in her training and we let’s see a little more fluid from her this time.
“She’s a very talented filly jumping deep against the winner of the Oaks and a filly that was kind of an unlucky second in the Belmont,” Asmussen added. “These are two fillies who have raced in Triple Crown races, but Society is very impressive and very fast and she deserves this chance.”
Tyler Gaffalione will seek his second win at CCA Oaks, guiding Society from post 2.
Butterbean rounds out the field, which earns a win at the 3rd-grade Iowa Oaks on July 9 at Prairie Meadows for coach Kenny McPeek. The Klimt filly owned by Magdalena Racing and William Klimashousky has won her last three starts, rising to an inaugural sixth score over 1 1/16 miles on May 27 at Churchill Downs before a 5 3/4 win in the Panthers two weeks later at Prairie Meadows.
Julien Leparoux will mount Butterbean from position 1.
More than 40 fillies have used the CCA Oaks as a stepping stone to Champion 3-Year-Old Filly honors, including three of the last six Songbird winners Abel Tasman and Monomoy Girl .
The CCA Oaks is scheduled as Race 5 on Saturday’s 11-race card, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 stroke in Race 10. The first post is at 1:05 p.m. EST.
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Secret Oath winning the 2022 Kentucky Oaks (Coady Photography)