The Bob Baffert-trained Secret Circle carried a big lead into the stretch and then held off a rail bid from longshot Shumoos to win the inaugural running of the $454,500 Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint by a length Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs (VIDEO).
Secret Circle, by Eddington , was sent off as the 2-5 favorite in a field of nine under Rafael Bejarano. Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman own the bay colt. He covered the six furlongs in 1:10.52 on a dirt track labeled good.
It was the eighth Breeders’ Cup winner for the Hall of Famer Baffert, a former Quarter Horse trainer who excels with young horses.
Secret Circle was bred in Kentucky by Willmott Stables and is out of the Dixieland Band mare Ragtime Hope. The $165,000 Ocala buy in March broke his maiden by 7 1/4 lengths at Del Mar in July and after a break came back to win the Oct. 10 Jack Goodman Stakes at Santa Anita.
Secret Circle remained undefeated in three starts, his first two victories coming by a combined 12 1/2 lengths. Those first two wins helped send him off as the overwhelming choice. He paid only $2.80 to win, which is the second lowest-priced winner in Breeders’ Cup history.
Breaking from post 6, Secret Circle was away sharply under Bejarano and sat just behind Trinniberg and Cornelio Velasquez through a lightning-quick :20.96 opening quarter-mile. He drew even with Trinniberg on the turn after a half-mile in :44.55 and was clear at the top of the lane.
“After I saw those fractions, I thought, ‘Oh boy,’ but he was doing it easy," Baffert said. "He’s just a very gifted horse, he has unbelievable speed. I feel good about it because he came off the plane and won here.
Secret Circle opened up a big advantage at the eighth-pole as Holdin Bullets and Jeffrey Sanchez gave chase from the outside but were never going to get to the leader. Secret Circle’s only threat was European shipper Shumoos, who came from far back in last under Garrett Gomez and was gobbling up ground along the rail.
But the wire came too soon for the 15-1 Shumoos. Secret Circle dug in despite drifting out and hung on for the win. Shumoos was 4 1/2 lengths clear of Holdin Bullets for third.
Bejarano said Secret Circle won even though he wasn't comfortable with the track.
"That's why he was lugging out a little (in the stretch), you know," he said. "I was a little concerned about how fast we were going (early), but I knew I had to be close today. I was going to put him in the race, and see what happened. He acted like he was much the best in the race, and he proved that."
"I was a little worried about him coming down the lane; he kind of lost focus, but he’s just young," Baffert said. We’re one-for-one now (in the 2011 Breeders' Cup). The pressure’s on. I thought going in that if he didn’t run well, I might be in for a bad weekend.”