Kentucky Oaks (G1) winner Secret Oath might be escaping the shadow of Nest in Saturday’s $1 million Cotillion S. (G1) at Parx, but the 1 1/16-mile affair for three-year-old fillies has still come up rather competitive.
If she is to have a glimmer of hope to secure division honors, Secret Oath will need to finish the season strong, starting with a win in the Cotillion. Following her two-length win over Nest at Churchill Downs, Secret Oath took on the boys in the Preakness (G1), but finished fourth after a troubled trip.
The Arrogate filly took on Nest twice at Saratoga, but was left in that rival’s wake in both the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Alabama (G1) by a cumulative margin of 16 1/2 lengths.
“We still have to probably go head-to-head with (Nest) to get the right answer. Right now, on this day, she is better than we are,” trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.
Mother Goose (G2) winner Gerrymander did not put her best foot forward in the Alabama, retreating on the far turn after rating close to a slow pace. Faring a little better in the Alabama was Goddess of Fire, Nest’s stablemate who finished third in her first outing with blinkers.
Joining Goddess of Fire are fellow Todd Pletcher stablemates Green Up and Shahama. Green Up has won four in a row by a combined margin of more than 20 lengths, the most recent being a 3 3/4-length decision in the Aug. 23 Cathryn Sophia S. at Parx. Shahama’s stakes wins this year include the Monmouth Oaks (G3) and UAE Oaks (G3).
Also lining up are Charles Town Oaks (G3) heroine Society and Grade 3 winner Adare Manor, runner-up in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2) and Black-Eyed Susan (G2) in her last two.
“We were very high on her and she has sort of went off form a little bit,” trainer Bob Baffert said of Adare Manor. “She got beat in the Santa Anita Oaks and we did not go to the Kentucky Oaks. She ran back in the Black-Eyed Susan and got beat. She has trained really well since then.”
In other stakes action on the Pennsylvania Derby Day card:
A full field of 14 three-year-olds line up in the $300,000 Gallant Bob S. (G2) over six furlongs. Among the likely contenders is Provocateur, a last-out winner over Witty, Speaking, and Chick Lang (G3) winner Lightening Larry in the Jersey Shore S. at Monmouth Park for Todd Pletcher.
Runninsonofagun gets some class relief after chasing Jack Christopher, Gunite, and Charge It in his last three. Stepping up in class off recent allowance wins are the Wesley Ward-trained Nakatomi and local standout Scaramouche, who is 5-for-6 over the Parx strip.
Fearless will be a strong favorite to carry off the $200,000 Greenwood Cup (G3) over 1 1/2 miles. The Pletcher trainee has finished or second in all six outings this year, and enters off back-to-back wins in the Brooklyn (G2) at Belmont Park and the Birdstone S. at Saratoga.
Mind Control is the class on paper in the $200,000 Parx Dirt Mile, a race he won last year over Metropolitan H. (G1) winner Silver State. The Grade 1 veteran scored another mildly surprising win in the Salvator Mile (G3) two back, beating Hot Rod Charlie by a head, and was most recently third in the Charles Town Classic (G2) when stretching out to 1 1/8 miles.
The other open stakes on the marathon 13-race card is the $300,000 Turf Monster S. (G3), a five-furlong dash that lacks a standout.