Circle Unbroken survived an objection after turning in a game performance in the $109,800 Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) to remain unbeaten June 30 at Churchill Downs, giving trainer Garry Simms his seventh winner from 10 starts at the Louisville oval's spring meet (VIDEO) .
The favored 2-year-old son of Broken Vow is named after the group of family and friends who have supported Simms through his battle with aggressive melanoma. Simms, who won last week's Debutante Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies with unbeaten Blueeyesintherein, became only the fifth trainer to sweep the two spring meet stakes races for 2-year-olds at Churchill.
"All I've really got to say is that I've been very blessed," said Simms. "Once again, it's all about my owners and my family and God. I guess the only thing better would be if these two come back in the spring and win the Oaks and the (Kentucky) Derby. It's a great victory and I'm very happy for my connections."
Third at the start under jockey Jon Court, Circle Unbroken settled back into fifth and tracked along behind a pace set by Special Jo as that one went a quarter mile in :22.10 and a half in :46.02. Court handled his mount patiently around the turn and set down for the drive between Special Jo and Hightail, who was moving four wide but faded after five-eighths in :58.39.
Improving his advantage past the furlong pole, Secret Circle edged clear to hold off a late charge from Positively on the outside under Calvin Borel. He took the six-furlong test over seven other juveniles by one length in 1:11.21. He remains unbeaten for owner Travis Morgeson V off a 1 1/4-length June 17 debut maiden score.
"It was a big step forward today," Simms remarked. "I had total confidence in the horse. Everyone was asking me about coming back in 13 days and this and that. But good racehorses find a way to win. There is a proverb that says 'You can prepare your horse for battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.'"
Trainer Pat Byrne said Positively would improve off the effort and would likely point for the Sept.8 Arlington-Washington Futurity (gr. III) at Arlington Park.
"He's a nice colt," he said. "I think the horse that beat us could be a serious racehorse. He was the fastest horse going in and this was a tough group. We're ecstatic. Anytime you get beat by a good horse it's never a big deal. We're just happy he showed up. He's got an incredible pedigree and now he's been second in a grade III, so it's all good. We’ve run three times here, so I plan to give him a little break."
It was 1 1/4 lengths back to Special Jo, who faded to third, a length in front of Hightail in fourth.
A claim of foul against Court and Borel by Ramon Vazquez, the rider of Hightail, was disallowed by stewards, who did not find that slight bumping in the stretch affected the result.
Circle Unbroken returned $6.80, $3.80, and $2.80 as the 2-1 favorite, while Positively brought $5.60 and $3.40 and Special Jo paid $2.80. Hightail, Good Tickled, Roman's Avenue, Praetorian Prefect, and Go Jack Go completed the order of finish.
Bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm out of the Doneraile Court mare Baldomera, Circle Unbroken earned $66,034 to boost his career total to $94,534.