2013 Breeders' Cup Highlights: Secret Circle

Secret Circle wins the Breeders' Cup Sprint
Photo: Don August


Please enjoy the fifth installment of my “2013 Breeders’ Cup Highlights” series, which features the greatest personal moments of my Breeders’ Cup experience.

Highlight Five: Secret Circle


The heat was blistering, but the air conditioning and shelter of the house offered relief from the scorching July sun. I focused my eyes on the television screen, which displayed TVG’s coverage of the third race at Del Mar on Saturday, July 23, 2011 – a maiden special weight for two-year-olds going five and one-half furlongs. As soon as the juveniles broke from the gate, my eyes focused on an eye-catching bay colt carrying the famous red and yellow silks of Mike Pegram and partners. As soon as Trevor Denman called out the colt’s name – Secret Circle – I knew I would not soon forget it.

Trained by Bob Baffert, the son of Eddington won that race – his racing debut – by 7 ¼ lengths. An easy stakes win at Santa Anita next out served as a stepping stone for the inaugural running of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs.

On the first day of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup, I focused my eyes upon the brilliant juvenile. The November sun was deceiving; it was a cold day at Churchill Downs. But my lack of warmth was forgotten as I stood along the rail near the finish line, watching the same bay colt from that summer power down the stretch of the Louisville track as he coasted to victory in the inaugural Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint.

As is often the case with a talented, newly-turned three-year-old, Secret Circle was placed on the Triple Crown trail. Competing in four graded stakes events during the spring of 2012, Secret Circle finished second in two of those starts and won the other two. Those pair of victories came in the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) and Rebel Stakes (gr. II).

A sesamoid injury suffered after finishing second to stablemate Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) not only forced Secret Circle off the Triple Crown trail, but kept him away from the races for eighteen months. He returned in an allowance optional claiming event at Santa Anita on October 14, capturing the contest with ease in preparation for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I).

Although undefeated at the six-furlong distance of the Sprint, competing in the Breeders’ Cup in only his second start off a lengthy layoff would be no easy task. But Secret Circle was out to prove just how special he truly was.

The sun was warm on my back as I watched Secret Circle stroll around the paddock prior to the Sprint at Santa Anita, but as I stood by the rail for the race, the shadow of the grandstand was cast over the track apron and homestretch, with a beam of sunlight fittingly shining across the finish line.

Sent off as the favorite in a field of twelve, Secret Circle raced down the center of the track off the leaders as the horses galloped down the backstretch. Allowing a handful of horses to race ahead of him as the field entered the far turn, Secret Circle was guided to the far outside by Martin Garcia as the Thoroughbreds approached the quarter pole. Charging down the center of the track, Secret Circle wore down his rivals, holding off Laugh Track to score by a neck.

I have always wanted to “discover” a Kentucky Derby winner in the early stages of its career, but having followed Secret Circle since the beginning has been just as rewarding. To have witnessed both of his Breeders’ Cup victories is simply icing on the cake. His Sprint triumph was only further validation of his class and talent, which will hopefully continue to be proven throughout the remainder of this special horse’s career.


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Older Comments about 2013 Breeders' Cup Highlights: Secret Circle...

Special Horse he is....
I have always liked secret circle. No one was beating bode in Arkansas that day but besides that one blemish this horse is sharp!

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