Secret Oath grows into herself as she prepares for Azeri

Secret Oath grows into herself as she prepares for Azeri
Photo: Candice Chavez / Eclipse Sportswire

Millionaire Grade 1 winner Secret Oath continues to progress toward her 4-year-old debut in the Grade 2, $350,000 Azeri for older fillies and mares March 11 at Oaklawn, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Thursday morning.

A homebred from Briland Farm (Robert and Stacy Mitchell), Secret Oath hasn’t started since finishing fifth in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff at 1 1/8 miles Nov. 5 at Keeneland. She returned to the work tab Jan. 8 at Oaklawn, recording a half-mile bullet in 47.6 seconds. Secret Oath subsequently breezed five furlongs Jan. 16 and Jan. 23.

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“Everybody you talk to on their horse always tells you they love the way they’re training and everything,” Lukas said. "But I’m pleasantly surprised. I knew she’d fill out and put on weight and mature. I’m surprised how much she did this winter.”

The Azeri is the final major local prep for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15. Both races are 1 1/16 miles. The Apple Blossom is the major spring objective for Secret Oath, whose dam, Absinthe Minded, finished second in the 2012 edition for Lukas and Briland Farm. Absinthe Minded also ran fourth in the 2012 Azeri.

“We’ll go straight into the Azeri,” Lukas said. “In fact, we could jump in any time here in February without a blink.”

Secret Oath was a runaway winner of the $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes and $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies last year at Oaklawn. She also captured the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies, in May at Churchill Downs.

Secret Oath, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 3-year-old filly, has a 13: 5-2-0 record and earnings of $1,768,417.

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