Secret Circle makes his first start of the year in the Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park.<br><a target="blank" href="!i=2899910022&k=cbdjMXr">Order This Photo</a>

Secret Circle makes his first start of the year in the Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
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Anne M. Eberhardt

Secret Circle Part of Salty Palos Verdes Cast

Joining the 2013 BC Sprint winner are Wild Dude, Big Macher, and Distinctiv Passion.

The 2013 Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Secret Circle  makes his seasonal debut in the $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes (gr. II) from Santa Anita Park Jan. 31.

The 6-year-old horse by Eddington  out of the dam Ragtime Hope will look to snap a five-race losing streak. The Kentucky-bred went winless in 2014, losing all five starts since the 2013 Sprint score.

In his most recent start, Secret Circle finishing fourth as the odds-on choice in the Midnight Lute Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita Dec. 27. He was beaten 2 3/4 lengths by Distinctiv Passion, who drew the rail in the six-furlong Palos Verdes.

On the morning of Jan. 25, Secret Circle worked four furlongs in :46 1/5 at Santa Anita under jockey Martin Garcia, while wearing blinkers for trainer Bob Baffert.

"He worked very well," Baffert said of Secret Circle, who will race in blinkers Saturday for only the second time in 15 career starts.

Secret Circle will break from post 4 for Garcia in the Palos Verdes, a race in which the bay finished second in 2014 behind Wild Dude, who is back to defend his title breaking from post 5.

 "(Wild Dude) always likes to come from behind," said jockey Rafael Bejarano, who has ridden the Florida-bred son of Wildcat Heir in seven of his 10 career starts, including the win in last year's Palos Verdes.

The 5-year-old hasn't started since finishing second in the Potrero Grande Stakes (gr. II) at Santa Anita April 12 by a nose. He has been working well for his return for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer.

"I don't know how much speed will be in the race, but hopefully we'll have a good trip," said Bejarano, the leading rider at Santa Anita. "I worked him the other day (six furlongs in a bullet 1:11 3/5 Jan. 22). He went really well."

Wild Dude has won four of 10 career starts with earnings of $320,220.

Speedster Distinctiv Passion will be seeking his third straight win after taking an allowance race at Del Mar Nov. 14 before scoring in the Midnight Lute at odds of nearly 7-1. Distinctiv Passion battled from the start and never looked back to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths under Mike Smith, who is back to ride the 5-year-old horse trained by Jeff Bonde.

Grade I winner Big Macher, who scratched from the Jan. 24 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint Stakes, drew post 2 and will be ridden by Tyler Baze in the six-horse field.

Claimed by trainer Richard Baltas out of a $20,000 maiden claiming race in 2013, Big Macher has since gone on to win six races, including last year's Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar for owners Tom Mansor and Tachucardia Stables.

Big Macher and Wild Dude are both listed as the 120-pound high weights in the six furlong Palos Verdes, one of three stakes races offered from Santa Anita on Saturday along with the $200,000 Arcadia Stakes (gr. IIT) and the $300,000 Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I).

Rounding out the field, are Conquest Two Step, who missed by a neck to champion Shared Belief in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at 72-1 odds Dec. 26, and recent allowance winner Chief Lion.

Entries: Palos Verdes S. (G2)

Santa Anita Park, Saturday, January 31, 2015, Race 6

  • Grade II
  • 6f
  • Dirt
  • $200,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 3:05 PM (local)
11Distinctiv Passion (FL)Mike E. Smith118Jeff Bonde-
22Big Macher (CA)Tyler Baze120Richard Baltas-
33Conquest Two Step (FL)Joseph Talamo118Mark E. Casse-
44Secret Circle (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMartin Garcia118Bob Baffert-
55Wild Dude (FL)Rafael Bejarano120Jerry Hollendorfer-
66Chief Lion (FL)Keeneland Sales GraduateMartin A. Pedroza118Eoin G. Harty-