Former trainer Michael Dickinson figures to pay close attention to Secret Circle when the 4-year-old Eddington colt starts in the Xpressbet Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) for trainer Bob Baffert Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park.
Winner of the 2011 Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, Secret Circle will try to win the 2013 Sprint off a single prep race in 1 1/2 years, an accomplishment that would be similar to Dickinson saddling Da Hoss to victory in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) after a single start since the 1996 edition of that race.
After winning the 1996 Mile at Woodbine, Da Hoss would not race again until October 1998—off for nearly two years—when he won an allowance race at Colonial Downs. In his next start the son of Gone West would secure his second victory in the Mile.
For Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman's Secret Circle, a planned start in the 2012 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) was halted by a sesamoid injury. The colt finally returned Oct. 14 this year at Santa Anita, registering a clear victory in an allowance optional claiming race after completing six furlongs in 1:07.98 on a fast track.
That allowance win marked Secret Circle's first start since finishing second in the 2012 Arkansas Derby (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park. Trainer Bob Baffert said an expected four months of recuperation time was pushed back more than once.
"He needed time and then we brought him back, then he had one little issue, but now he's back and that was a great work today," Baffert said Oct. 23 after Secret Circle handily worked four furlongs in :47 at Santa Anita, earning the bullet among 41 moves at the distance on the fast track.
Secret Circle finished an undefeated juvenile season in three 2011 starts with victories in the Jack Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita and in the inaugural Juvenile Sprint, completing six furlongs in 1:10.52 on a fast Churchill track. At 3, he was placed on the Triple Crown trail where he registered wins in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn before his runner-up Arkansas Derby finish. He also placed second in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) at Santa Anita.
In his return this year, Secret Circle worked six times from Aug. 27 to Oct. 7—earning the bullet in four of those moves—before his Oct. 14 start. Sent off as the 6-5 favorite, Secret Circle tracked in third early before launching a three-wide move turning for home. He quickly opened a clear lead that he would not relinquish despite drifting in through a final furlong in 12.2 seconds.
"It was very exciting to see him run so well," Baffert said. "We would have liked to have gotten him back sooner but I didn't want to run him at Del Mar."