Granted, Secret Oath has not proved herself another Althea yet, let alone another Winning Colors, whom Lukas trained to a Kentucky Derby win in 1988 after the daughter of Caro blitzed a field of hapless colts in the Santa Anita Derby (USA-G1). Nonetheless, if she continues her improvement, one may see in her the stamp of her late sire, Arrogate, whose meteoric rise in 2016 was one of the most exciting developments of that year.
Arrogate, of course, had no difficulty at all with getting 10 furlongs in the best of company, and that is as well for any Classic hopes for Secret Oath, whose distaff-side pedigree leans more toward speed. The filly is the fourth foal of Absinthe Minded, another Briland homebred who won three listed stakes at Oaklawn Park and placed twice in the Apple Blossom Handicap (USA-G1) among five graded stakes placings.
The best of nine winners produced by her dam Rockford Peach, Absinthe Minded's best distance was right about 8.5 furlongs, which is not surprising for a daughter of 1990 NYRA Mile Handicap (USA-G1) winner Quiet American. While Quiet American stretched out well enough to run second in the 1990 Charles H. Strub Stakes (USA-G1) over 10 furlongs, most of his progeny preferred 8 or 9 furlongs, and his Kentucky Derby-winning son Real Quiet (who missed the American Triple Crown by about four inches in the Belmont Stakes, USA-G1) was from a classically oriented female line. Absinthe Minded does not have that kind of stamina buttressing whatever she inherited from Quiet American, as Rockford Peach was sired by the sprinter Great Above (by Minnesota Mac), whose dam Ta Wee raced to American sprint championships in 1969 and 1970. A half sister to Puerto Rican champion El Ordenador, Rockford Peach, in turn, is out of Strawberry Skyline, a winning daughter of 1976 Widener Handicap (USA-G1) and Amory L. Haskell Handicap (USA-G1) winner Hatchet Man.
Secret Oath's pedigree bears the stamp of John Nerud and Tartan Farms both top and bottom, for Arrogate's paternal grandsire Unbridled was the last champion bred by Tartan and his great-grandsire Fappiano was bred by Nerud, who planned Tartan's matings as well as becoming a notable breeder in his own name. A winner of the Metropolitan Handicap (USA-G1) and one of the most influential sire sons of Mr. Prospector, Fappiano is a maternal grandson of the great Dr. Fager (who, like Minnesota Mac, was sired by Rough'n Tumble) and of Tartan Farm foundation mare Cequillo, and these lines were both duplicated in Fappiano's son Quiet American (who was out of Demure, by Dr. Fager x Cequillo). Great Above adds further to the pileup of Tartan lines, as both Minnesota Mac and Ta Wee (a half sister to Dr. Fager by 1959 American champion sprinter Intentionally, a horse purchased for Tartan by Nerud) were Tartan-bred, and another link between the sire's and dam's sides of Secret Oath's pedigree is Aspidistra, another Tartan foundation mare who was the dam of Dr. Fager and Ta Wee and the fourth dam of Unbridled.
At the moment, Lukas is still keeping his options open, and he seems to be enjoying keeping the press guessing. Secret Oath is eligible for the Fantasy Stakes (USA-G3) on the Arkansas Derby undercard, another points race for the Oaks, and Lukas has another Arkansas Derby candidate in Ethereal Road, second in the Rebel. Regardless of the direction the filly takes, she has a chance to make history; as a Kentucky Derby candidate, she could become only the fourth filly to win the Derby as well as making Lukas the only trainer to develop two Derby-winning fillies, and as an Oaks candidate, she could put Lukas into a position to tie Woody Stephens' record with five Oaks winners. At any rate, there is no secret regarding Secret Oath's talent any more; the only remaining secret is her destination.