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OPINION | WALLY HALL: A Secret Oath win would be a tale to tell

by Wally Hall | May 19, 2022 at 2:24 a.m.

When Rich Strike's owner announced the Kentucky Derby winner would not be in the Preakness this Saturday, the race took a huge hit.

Triple Crown contenders create excitement.

The only major news now in the Triple Crown is that Secret Oath is taking on the males.

Secret Oath is a filly who spent the winter and spring at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs where she won three races, including the Honeybee, before taking on the colts in the Arkansas Derby when she finished third.

Until then, trainer D. Wayne Lukas was thinking about contesting the Kentucky Derby but opted for the Kentucky Oaks, which she won by 2 lengths and earned a speed rating of 101.

Not only is this a filly against colts, but there is some possible history hanging in the balance.

Rich Strike was an 80-1 shot in the Kentucky Derby.

In the 2009 Derby, Mine That Bird, who barely qualified for the race like Rich Strike, was 50-1 and won a race so similar to Rich Strike's that it is uncanny.

Jockey Calvin Borel put Mine That Bird in the stretch and booted her past Pioneer of the Nile and Musket Man so fast that the track announcer didn't notice until almost the finish line.

Mine That Bird was vanned from New Mexico to Churchill Downs by trainer Chip Woolley Jr., who had a broken leg.

Here's where the story line leads us: Mine That Bird went to the Preakness along with Rachel Alexandra, who won the Kentucky Oaks.

Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness.

That's almost the entire saga of this Preakness, which needed Rich Strike and talk of a Triple Crown.

Of course, Secret Oath has her work cut out for her.

While only three horses who ran in the Kentucky Derby moved on to the Preakness, one of them is Epicenter, who looked to be the winner of the Run for the Roses until Rich Strike flew by on the rail.

The Steve Asmussen-trained colt has only been out of the money one time, and that was his maiden race. He won the Louisiana Derby, was the favorite in Kentucky and will be favored this Saturday.

The guess here is he'll be 3-5 on the odds board.

The second favorite may be Simplification, who ran fourth in the Kentucky Derby and, who like Epicenter, was sired by Not This Time.

Secret Oath, who gets a 5-pound weight break and will carry 121 pounds, will most likely be third favorite.

The rest of the field may be running for fourth-place money.

What has happened with Rich Strike waiting on the Belmont and so few horses from the Kentucky Derby moving on to the second leg of the Triple Crown, it has stirred the debate of whether the dates should be changed, moving them further apart.

Randy Moss, the NBC expert analyst who is from Hot Springs and was handicapper for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for several years, is for making them four weeks apart.

Except for 2020 when covid-19 was in control, the races have been spaced out two weeks between the Derby and the Preakness and three weeks until the Belmont Stakes since 1969.

Trainers seem to be split on making a change, and American Pharoah was able to win all three in 2015. He also won the Arkansas Derby three weeks before winning the Kentucky Derby.

It might be hard to win all three, but it is doable.

What yours truly would like to see is all three Triple Crown races shortened to 1 mile. Partly because 3-year-olds are not fully developed and breeding is all about speed and not endurance.

Another thing yours truly would like to see is Secret Oath and the 85-year-old Lukas in the winner's circle this Saturday.

Print Headline: A Secret Oath win would be a tale to tell


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