05/29/2013 3:12PM

Epsom Downs: Secret Gesture favored in English Oaks


Everyone seemed to want a part of Secret Gesture earlier this week, in advance of Friday’s $600,000 English Oaks at Epsom Downs.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar bought a 50 percent share of Secret Gesture from owner and breeder Newsells Park Stud. On Wednesday, when the field of 11 was finalized for the Group 1 English Oaks, Secret Gesture was made the 5-2 favorite.

The English Oaks, run over 1 1/2 miles on turf, figures to be a battle of lightly raced fillies.

Secret Gesture has won 2 of 3 starts. Moth, Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien’s top hope, has made four starts, while another contender, Liber Nauticus, is unbeaten after two races.

Secret Gesture, trained by Ralph Beckett, took the Oaks Trial at Lingfield Racecourse on May 11, pulling clear to win by 10 lengths in her stakes debut. Beckett won the 2008 Oaks with 33-1 outsider Look Here.

At 2, Secret Gesture was second and first in maiden races in October.

Moth did not win until her third start, which came against maidens at The Curragh in Ireland in April. She followed with a troubled third-place finish in the English 1000 Guineas at Newmarket on May 5. Moth raced in traffic and was running best at the wire, finishing two lengths behind Sky Lantern.

Liber Nauticus won her only start this year, the Group 3 Musidora Stakes at York on May 15. Trained by Michael Stoute, Liber Nauticus will be ridden by Ryan Moore.

O’Brien also starts Say, an Irish-bred filly by Galileo out of Riskaverse, the winner of the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park in 2004 and 2005. Say won a maiden race in Cork, Ireland, on May 10.

Dear Demi in Queensland Oaks

Dear Demi will be favored to win Saturday’s $384,000 Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm Racecourse in Australia.

A filly by Dehere, Dear Demi can win her third stakes of the year in the Group 1 Queensland Oaks, which is run over 1 1/2 miles on turf and is for Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old fillies. Dear Demi had a busy month in May. She won the Group 3 Roses Stakes over 1 1/4 miles on turf May 18 and was sixth of 15 against males in the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes on May 25.