Epicenter, Secret Oath Confirmed for Preakness

The 147th Preakness Stakes (G1) will feature a rematch between Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) upset victor Rich Strike and favored Epicenter , who appeared home free until passed on the inside in the final strides by the 80-1 longshot. A new factor comes into play with Secret Oath diving in against the boys after her Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) triumph May 6.

David Fiske, Winchell Thoroughbreds’ longtime bloodstock manager, confirmed after speaking with trainer Steve Asmussen Wednesday morning that Epicenter will run in the May 21 Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown at historic Pimlico Race Course. The Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) winner returned to the track May 11 at Churchill Downswith Asmussen liking what he saw as Epicenter jogged and galloped under Roberto Howell.

Plans call for Epicenter to work an easy half-mile May 16 and van to Pimlico the following day.

“Steve said he was really pleased with how he went back to the track this morning,” Fiske said. “He said he looked great. I mean, we were going. It was just that (Epicenter) needed to tell us that he wanted to go.

“I thought he traveled well,” he said of Epicenter’s first day back training. “Roberto said he was himself, more of the same. Being himself is a good thing. I thought he took the Derby really well. He laid down like he normally does. He’s been nice and relaxed.”

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Secret Oath Confirmed for Preakness
Briland Farm’s homebred Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath has been confirmed for the Preakness, a race Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won six times.

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 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.”

“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.


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