Time to Give Secret Circle His Due

April 01, 2015 12:09pm

Lost just a bit in all the weekend’s hoopla of the Dubai World Cup, and Kentucky Derby preps in Florida and Louisiana, was the performance of Secret Circle. Halfway across the globe, the six-year-old son of Eddington once again proved that he is one of the elite sprinters in the world with a gritty win in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on Saturday at Meydan. In so doing, Secret Circle became the only American-based runner to win on the world’s richest racing card Saturday evening.

Despite the unfamiliar surroundings, Secret Circle, under Victor Espinoza, found himself in a familiar stalking position early. Going right after it from the break while in-between competition, horse and rider positioned themselves three-wide, and in third through the first half of the six furlong affair. As Lucky Nina and the classy Rich Tapestry made all the early running, Secret Circle was engaged and would not let the leading pair get too far away.

As the sizeable field of 13 came spinning out of Meydan’s far turn, it was the California-based American who was ready to strike. Secret Circle quickly forged to the front as Lucky Nina fell back, with Rich Tapestry remaining game from the rail. It looked like he had that one’s measure, though, but it was the rallying Super Jockey who soon became the major threat. A lesser horse would have succumbed, but Secret Circle fought all the way to the wire to hold off Super Jockey by a determined head.

Remarkably, this was the first victory in nearly 18 months for Secret Circle. His last trip to the winner’s circle came in a popular victory in the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint. You cannot keep a good horse down, though, and Secret Circle is most certainly a good horse.

Owned by Mike Pegram, Paul Weitman, and Karl Watson, winning is actually nothing new for Secret Circle. A winner of exactly half of his 16 lifetime starts, the Bob Baffert trained horse was collecting his third seven-figure victory of his career with the win in the Golden Shaheen.

It all started for Secret Circle way back in 2011, when the lightly raced and undefeated colt came to Churchill Downs as the favorite for the inaugural running of the short-lived Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint. He zig-zagged all the way down the stretch that afternoon, but still was too much for his competition.

As a three-year-old, the fleet-footed Secret Circle joined the Kentucky Derby trail with facile victories in the Southwest and Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Derby dreams came to an end when he was well-beaten by his talented stablemate, Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby. An injury would keep him away from the races for more than a year,after that.

He picked up right where he left off, when as a four-year-old, he returned in the fall to score an allowance/optional claimer victory at Santa Anita. Demonstrating his class, Secret Circle would earn his second victory in the Breeders' Cup when he won the Sprint while making only his second start in 18 months, a month after his return.

Secret Circle started six times in between that Breeders' Cup victory, and his trip to Dubai, and while continuing to perform at a high level, he was unable to break through to the winner’s circle. Still, he finished second in defense of his BC Sprint victory last fall, and followed that up with a second-place finish in the always tough Cigar Mile. More recently, he recorded his second consecutive runner-up finish in the Palos Verdes Stakes. The losing streak had reached six, but is happily no more after the Golden Shaheen score.

A new chapter to the racing career of Secret Circle was written on Saturday in the desert of Dubai. He may never have been the best horse in America, or able to beat the best at classic distances, but clearly, the son of Eddington is classy, consistent, and a winner. All told, he is 16-8-6-1, with earnings of $3,670,790 in a career that has now spanned five seasons … Time to give Secret Circle his due.


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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, American Pharoah and Justify. 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. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter 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 hosting 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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