Getting a ground-saving trip under Florent Geroux, Divine Oath was fifth in early stretch and gamely drove between rivals at midstretch before overhauling leader Our Channel late and scoring by a half-length. The victory was his first in a stakes.
A 3-year-old son of Broken Vow , Divine Oath was timed in 1:56.50 for 1 3/16 miles on firm turf. Highball, who broke last in the 10-horse field, angled five wide into the stretch and was up to take third from favorite Schoolofhardrocks, three-quarters of a length behind Our Channel.
Based at Belmont Park with Todd Pletcher, Divine Oath was the 7-2 second favorite in the field of 10 sophomores and notched his third win from four turf starts. He came into the American Derby after closing well to finish fourth in the Penn Mile Stakes on the grass at May 31 Penn National Race Course. Prior to that, he was second in the Coolmore Lexington (gr. III) on the Polytrack April 19 at Keeneland. He broke his maiden on Gulfstream's turf course in January followed by a turf allowance there in February.
With Divine Oath settling into sixth after the start, Our Channel tracked from second and Schoolofhardrocks chased from third after Ghostly Wonder jumped out to set the pace. James Graham urged Our Channel to the front in early stretch and Schoolofhardrocks gave chase, but Divine Oath was moving fastest of all on the rail and was along in time for the win.
Divine Oath paid $9.20, $4.60 and $3.40 and Our Channel, 13th in the Investec Epsom Derby (Eng-I) last time out, returned $6.40 and $4.60. Highball paid $6 to show.
Afortable was fifth, followed by Big Tom Prado, Giacallure, Hesinfront, and Ghostly Wonder. Chief Barker was pulled up and vanned off the course.
Bred in Kentucky by Sanford Robertson, Divine Oath is the first starter out of the winning Forestry mare Rejoicing. Pletcher, as agent, bought the bay colt for $200,000 out of the Select Sales consignment at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale.