The race for the 3-year-old filly championship should come into a sharper focus on Saturday when the division leaders square off at glorious Saratoga Race Course in the Coaching Club American Oaks.
Secret Oath and Nest met for the first time in the Longines Kentucky Oaks and Secret Oath won by two lengths over her Todd Pletcher-trained rival. They both then took on males in the Triple Crown with Secret Oath finishing fourth in the Preakness Stakes for the legendary D. Wayne Lukas and Nest grabbing second in the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets. Round 2 between them should be a great matchup with major Eclipse Award implications.
1. Butterbean: Seeks a fourth straight win but she taking a big jump in class here after winning the Iowa Oaks. She might like the added distance and trainer Kenny McPeek has a penchant for registering upsets in major stakes, but it seems unlikely in this spot.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux; TRAINER: Ken McPeek
2. Society: She’s undefeated, but she’s yet to race in a graded stakes much less a Grade 1. She has some speed in a paceless race but she’ll need a lot more than that to upend the Big Two.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
3. Nest: She’s getting better and better and has never been worse then third in her seven career starts. She was a game second in both the Longines Kentucky Oaks and Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, but at this 1 1/8-mile distance Secret Oath may have a slight edge over her. Regardless, it promises to be a thrilling stretch duel.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr.; TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
4. Nostalgic: She never fired in the Kentucky Oaks, but won the Gazelle Stakes before that. With a Grade 3 win to her credit, if someone is going to upend the leading ladies of the division, it most likely will be her.
JOCKEY: Junior Alvarado; TRAINER: Bill Mott
5. Secret Oath: She had some trouble while finishing fourth in the Preakness Stakes, so cross a line through that one. She was clearly best in the Kentucky Oaks and her recent workouts have been sensational. At this 1 1/8-mile distance, we’ll side with her. The Alabama Stakes, at 1 1/4 miles, may be a different story.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: D. Wayne Lukas
THE PICK: Secret Oath
Predicted order of finish: 5-3-4-1