Everyone knows the Kentucky Derby. But what about the Kentucky Oaks?…This too is a day of magnificence in the world of Thoroughbred racing.
For 148 years now it has been a ladies first mentality at Churchill Downs. The Friday before the world’s most recognizable race has been reserved for the three-year-old fillies as they race for a lovely blanket of lilies. Yes, the Oaks is the flower on the fascinator, but there is also a plethora of wonderful events leading up to the main event. This 2022 edition featured seven blockbuster graded stakes races.
Leading up to the day’s feature race there were highlights galore. The Chad Brown-trained duo of Bleecker Street and Fluffy Socks dueled to the wire in the grade 3 Modesty. The grade 1 La Troienne saw Pauline’s Pearl come from the back to run down Shedaresthedevil. When challenged in the Alysheba, Olympiad responded like a gold medalist. New Year’s Eve partied to the finish pole at 14-1 for trainer Brendan Walsh in the grade 2 Edgewood. The grade 2 Eight Belles saw Matareya flex her muscle in the stretch as she overpowered a flying Pretty Birdie. In the Twin Spires Turf Sprint Arrest Me Red handcuffed the rest of a very competitive field in a dash over the Churchill grass.
The Kentucky Oaks lived up to all the hype a big race like this gets ahead of post time. Representing many of the things that make this the greatest sport in the world, the 148th rendition was fillynominal. A very competitive field was bunched tightly around the far turn and then it happened. Unleashing the powerful stride that reminded us of her pappy Arrogate, Secret Oath bolted to the lead and never looked back. Holding off a hard-charging Nest, there was no Secret as to who was the best filly on this day.
One of the other special things about this win was it placed one of the greatest horsemen in the history of the sport back in the limelight. Eighty-six-year-old D. Wayne Lukas picked up a record-tying fifth win in this race. Speaking to his far-reaching expertise, it was his first Oaks triumph since 1990.
The final thing the Kentucky Oaks did…set the table for the Kentucky Derby.