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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Can Secret Circle go the distance?

Much like the soon to be crowned juvenile champion of 2011, Hansen, Secret Circle has been perfect in three starts and counts a Breeders’ Cup race among his victories. While Hansen began his career with two victories at Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky, before staying in the state for the BC Juvenile, Secret Circle earned his first two wins at a pair of America’s glamour tracks, Del Mar and Santa Anita, before venturing two-thirds of the way across the country to win at Churchill Downs in the BC Juvenile Sprint. Why then is Hansen the colt almost assuredly to have his name called at the Eclipse Award ceremony in January?

Besides the obvious answer of defeating race favorite Union Rags in the race widely recognized as the most important a two-year-old can win, I propose the chasm between the two in Eclipse Award votes will boil down to distance, distance, distance.
Hansen already has won around two-turns twice, while all of Secret Circle’s races have come in sprints. This fact seems to be a vital distinction when comparing horses expected to point for the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby in six months. Fair enough, but as impressive as the Michael Pegram owned, and Bob Baffert trained youngster has been, it’s time to explore his outlook as far as being able to handle a distance in the future.

A son of Eddington, Secret Circle was bred in Kentucky by Willmott Stables and is out of the Dixieland Band mare Ragtime Hope. He was purchased for $165,000 as a two-year-old in training at Ocala this March. His breeding suggests that a transition to longer distances will not be a problem.

Eddington was a grade 1 stakes winner and earner of more than $1.2 million over a three season career in the middle of the last decade. Displaying a fondness for a distance, he was a romping winner of the Grade 1 Pimlico Special at 1 3/16 miles, in which he earned a 112 Beyer. In 17 starts, he won 6 times and never finished worse than fourth. A winner at distances up to 11 furlongs, all of his best races came at a route of ground including wins in the Gulfstream Park Handicap (also at 1 3/16 miles), and the Calder Derby on the grass. He also finished 3rd in the Preakness and Travers, and 4th in the Belmont Stakes. Now ten, Eddington has sired three crops to race so far, with Secret Circle being the first major stakes winner.

The sire of Eddington is the champion runner and sire of sires, Unbridled, while his dam is Fashion Star. A daughter of champion Chief’s Crown, Fashion Star received a strong stamina influence from her broodmare sire, Sir Ivor. A multiple graded stakes placed runner, Fashion Star won 5 times in 19 starts, and was best running at two-turns on the turf. Besides Eddington she produced Star Crowned (Kingmambo), a group 1 placed sprinter overseas.

On the female side, Secret Circle’s dam is Ragtime Hope. A winner of 3 of 21 races, she earned $127,000 on the track. Secret Circle is her first stakes winner, and is a full brother to Eddington's Hope a recent winner of a $19,000 claimer at Woodbine going 6 furlongs. Her sire is Dixieland Band. A son of all-time great sire, Northern Dancer, out of the grade 1 winning mare, Mississippi Mud, Dixieland Band sired 115 stakes winners. He has also proven himself as a top broodmare sire, with even more stakes winners produced by his daughters than he sired, including two Kentucky Derby winners, Monarchos (Maria’s Mon) and Street Sense (Street Cry). The dam of Ragtime Hope is Good n’ Smart. A daughter of distance influence, Smarten, Good n’ Smart produced the graded stakes placed filly Really Polish.

We may not have to wait much longer to get an idea of Secret Circle’s ability to run a route of ground, as he is being strongly considered for the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on December 17.
While his breeding gives much hope for handling a distance, you never know until you see the horse actually make the attempt.



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Older Comments about Can Secret Circle go the distance?...

Just look at Bold Forbes as an example of a horse who was taught stamina
you forget Baffert has trained several very very good K Derby performers
Secret Circle reminds of another up and coming two/three-year old Baffert had years ago named Thirty Slews. Not to mention, I think So Brilliant will be the better of the two in the three year old season.
Well...if speed is inborn, then I'd say Secret Circle's 97 Beyers pretty much prove he was born with speed. If stamina is taught, maybe Baffert can figure out how to train a horse between now and May. :))
One of Claiborne's standards to be a stallion was the ability to get 10 furlongs at three. In that definition it did not matter WHEN in that three year old season. Many don't get 10 furlongs in May but do in August (Forty Niner, Holt Bull, Chief's Crown and others) Stamina is taught speed is inborn)
People are always looking for a direct genetic correlation when, objectively there aren't any. They look at those individuals who possess such an such a trait NEVER evaluating the dozens and dozens who never maifest that characteristic and then tell all they have figured it out. The old adatage STILL rings true today, Breed the best to the best (pheotype) and HOPE for the best.
individuals have individual traits. If they are akin to an ancesstor it is randomly associated at best
It looks like he should do well at the Classic distance, at least should have no problem with 1 1/16 in the Futurity. I hope he runs.
I don't think so.. I think he will fade.. no punch left at the end.
How was is that pedigree said Cigar was a turf horse and Lure was a dirt horse (by the way, as a grandson of Northern Dancer, I completely disagree) if not for consistent trends in breeding results? Eddington loved a distance, and Dixieland Band is the broodmare sire of two Kentucky Derby winners ... you can't tell me this horse doesn't have a better chance of handling a distance than a horse with sprint breeding.
Horses are individauls and nothing other. Pedigree said Ciagr was a turf horse and Lure a dirt horse. those "theoreticals" never worked out in those two individuals did they? or coutnless others as well. The horse does what it shows capability of and not much else
I stand corrected.
I dont see the distance posing a problem based on pedigree, he will have to beat so brilliant it seems
JohnByrd its 3 wins on two tracks he never raced at keeneland its 2 turfway wins
I dont think he can handle it either..
Actually, Hansen's three victories have come on three different tracks: Turfway; Keeneland; and Churchill.
I think baffert should push him..
If he slows down before the 1/4 and sets off the pace he'll be fine over a mile, this horse wants to win and his determination is noticeable. I say yes, but he has to learn how to conserve.
I don't think he can go the distance

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, and American Pharoah. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as co-hosting the popular racing show, HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.


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