Horse Racing

Preakness Notes: Secret Oath ‘Probable’ For Pimlico, Un Ojo ‘On The Right Track’


D. Wayne Lukas said the ultimate decision remains to be made but that Briland Farm’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath is “probable” for the May 21 Preakness, a race the Hall of Fame trainer has won six times. Lukas said that Rebel (G2) runner-up Ethereal Road will head to Pimlico Race Course but most likely will run in the $100,000 Sir Barton for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles.

“It could change, but I’d like to run in the Sir Barton,” Lukas said. “He’ll be a short price there.”

Lukas, who won his first of four Kentucky Derbys with the filly Winning Colors in 1988, said he discusses the Preakness for Secret Oath every day with owner-breeders Rob and Stacy Mitchell. If they don’t go in the Preakness, Lukas said the filly will train up to Saratoga’s $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on July 23. He said Secret Oath will only run in Grade 1 route races from now on out.

“We agonize over it,” he said at Churchill Downs Wednesday morning. “She’s gone back to the track, and she was very sharp out there today. I don’t see anything about her that would change our decision right now [regarding the Preakness]…. She’s training well. She’s bright. She’s sharp and out there playing.”

Asked if Secret Oath could be considered probable for the Preakness, Lukas said, “Yes. You can say probable. Maybe a probable-plus…. If she does that (wins), she’s got a chance to be Horse of the Year, when you step out of the box that far.

“Let’s put it this way: The Derby horses pretty much all had a hard race. Her race was not hard on her,” he added. “Now, you sit back and say, ‘Epicenter is going to be the favorite. Chad Brown is putting that other horse (Wood Memorial runner-up Early Voting) in.’ What I always did on those, is I list all the horses going and say, ‘Can I beat this one?’ Yes. ‘Can I beat that one?’ Maybe. Go right down the line. But I still don’t know who’s going.

“Epicenter will be difficult. He’s a legitimate favorite. He’s a very good horse. Nobody can go over there and think they’ll just run by him. He is going to be awfully tough to beat. You are taking a shot if you take him on,” Lukas continued. “The other thing that always factors in is that when they are really good like she is right now, you take advantage of that moment, that time frame. We’ve got it planned out all the way to the Breeders’ Cup, but there’s a lot of road until then. Things happen.”

Secret Oath jogged a lap around Churchill Downs and then jogged more in the track’s mile chute Wednesday morning under Danielle Rosier.

Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric’s Simplification, the only Preakness (G1) contender on the grounds at Pimlico Race Course, has settled in nicely, trainer Antonio Sano’s assistant Jesus ‘Chino’ Prada said Wednesday morning.

Simplification, fourth by 3 ¾ lengths in the Kentucky Derby (G1) Saturday at odds of 35-1, shipped from Louisville, Ky. to Baltimore overnight Monday and arrived at the Pimlico Stakes Barn at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

“The horse is very good, excellent,” Prada said.

Simplification, a son of Not This Time, walked the shedrow Tuesday afternoon. His relaxing schedule for Wednesday called for eating, a pair of 45-minute walks and baths. Prada said the bay colt will go to the track with a pony for the first time at 6 a.m. Thursday.

Bobo and her husband, Fernando De Jesus, run a pinhooking business at their farm in Ocala, Florida. They purchased Simplification as a weanling in a private sale with the intention of selling him the next year. When he developed some lower leg issues they held on to him and later decided to race him with Sano. He has a 3-1-2 record from eight starts, a Grade 2 win in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, has earned $665,350, and has taken them and De Meric to the Triple Crown.

Prada, 57, has worked around horses since 1984 in his native Venezuela and in the U.S. He said that the colt showed promise early on.

“When he came to the barn as a baby, he was a nice baby,” Prada said. “Sano waited for months to get the horse into the barn. The first time he breezed, he showed that he was a good horse. Sano took his time with him when he was a baby, and he’s a very special horse. From the first time that he worked at Gulfstream, we knew he was a big talent.”

Trainer Chad Brown has not decided whether he will have one or two runners in the 147th Preakness (G1) on May 21 at Pimlico Race Course. Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting is on course for the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, while Brown said that he is still considering a run with Zandon, who was third in last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby (G1).

Zandon arrived at Brown’s barn at Belmont Park from Louisville, Ky. on Tuesday. The four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said he will watch the horse on the track this week before deciding over the weekend whether to enter the Preakness.

Brown and owner Seth Klarman opted not to run Early Voting in the Derby and to point him to the Preakness, the race they won in 2017 with Cloud Computing. Early Voting won the Feb. 5 Withers (G3) and was second by a neck to Mo Donegal in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) to stamp himself as a Triple Crown series-caliber runner.

“He’s doing fine,” Brown said. “He’s going to have his final work over the weekend and then we’ll head to Baltimore sometime early in the week.”

Jose Ortiz will ride Early Voting in the Preakness.

Brown is using the same approach with Early Voting that worked with Cloud Computing: skipping the Derby and making the Preakness the fourth career start for colts with graded-stakes experience.

“They are very similar,” Brown said. “Lightly raced coming out of the Wood. They have spacing. The same owner. They have similar running styles. Early Voting has shown a little bit more speed and will be close up front. Cloud Computing wasn’t far away in the Preakness.”

Creative Minister, an impressive allowance winner on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard, went back to the track in preparation for a start in the May 21 Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., seeking his first victory in a Triple Crown race, has the mount.

“He galloped, his first day back from running,” said Greg Geier, who oversees trainer Kenny McPeek’s Churchill Downs operation. “He looked good.”

McPeek confirmed Creative Minister is Preakness-bound late Tuesday afternoon. The gray son of 2012 Preakness third-place finisher Creative Cause debuted at Gulfstream Park on March 5, finishing second by a neck. Creative Minister then reeled off victories at 1 1/16 miles in a Keeneland maiden race in the slop and in the Derby Day allowance.

“He’s been a really late-developing colt,” said McPeek, who won the 2020 Preakness with the filly Swiss Skydiver. “Last year as a 2-year-old, he had development issues, just needed more time. We kept giving him more time, and he didn’t make the races until early March. But he’s really shown composure and talent. You don’t get many opportunities for these things. His race Saturday was ultra-impressive. Somebody said that on the Equibase figures that he got a faster figure than the Derby, so we’re going to try him.”

Fern Circle Stables and Back Racing LLC’s Creative Minister was awarded a 108 Equibase speed figure, while Rich Strike’s upset received a 106 in the 1 ¼-mile Derby.

McPeek said Rattle N Roll, the 2021 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner who finished fourth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds and sixth in Keeneland’s Blue Grass (G1), remains a possibility for the Preakness.

Cypress Creek Equine LLC’s Un Ojo jogged two miles Wednesday at Churchill Downs under Clay Courville, assistant to his dad, trainer Ricky Courville. The one-eyed winner of Oaklawn Park’s Rebel (G2) at 75-1 odds finished eighth with a troubled trip in the Arkansas Derby (G1). Un Ojo was withdrawn from the Kentucky Derby on the morning of entries with a minor foot bruise, from which he has rebounded to the point that the Preakness is the goal.

“My dad and I decided just to let him jog today,” Clay Courville said. “I’ll see how high he is in the morning when I get here (as far as what they do Thursday). We’re going to take it light on him until Saturday, when he breezes. He’s going good, jogged perfect for me this morning. He’s happy, that’s for sure. We’re on the right track.”

As was the case before the Derby, jockey Colby Hernandez will work Un Ojo, with Ramon Vazquez scheduled to ride in the Preakness.

At Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking galloped for a planned start in the Preakness.

“He’ll work Friday or Saturday before shipping,” trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said.

Junior Alvarado has the return mount aboard the son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator, who finished third in the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct.

Owner/trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon’s Shake Em Loose is scheduled to breeze Sunday morning on turf at Laurel before it is determined whether the son of Shakin It Up will run in the Preakness or the James W. Murphy, an undercard turf stakes.

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