Race of the Week 2017

Out of Bounds Catches Secret Circle in Sham

Out of Bounds rallied in the stretch to beat 1-2 favorite Secret Circle by a half-length in the Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, the first Kentucky Derby prep of the season at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Secret Circle, who led briefly into the stretch, lost for the first time in four career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Garrett Gomez, 10-1 shot Out of Bounds ran a mile in 1:34.56 and paid $22.60, $5.80 and $4.40. Gomez extended his streak of consecutive stakes victories at the track to four dating to New Year's Day when he turned 40.

Secret Circle, last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner, returned $2.80 and $2.10, while Longview Drive was another half-length back in third and paid $4 to show. They were the only two stakes winners in the field of five 3-year-olds.

Trained by Eoin Harty, Out of Bounds is out of 2001 BC Distaff winner Unbridled Elaine and is by Discreet Cat, the 2006 UAE Derby winner who never raced in the Triple Crown series. The colt is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who races as Darley Stable.

Out of Bounds was fourth in his career debut at Santa Anita last fall and then won across town at Hollywood Park last month.

"He's a very big horse, but he's a gentle giant," Harty said. "He's come around mentally as well as physically, and sometimes it takes a while for both to catch up."

Harty has been on the Triple Crown trail before with Colonel John, who won the 2008 Sham Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. He went on to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

"He's the closest thing to Colonel John I've had in a long time," the trainer said about Out of Bounds, whose next start is undecided but will be another of the upcoming Kentucky Derby preps at Santa Anita.

Secret Circle was stretching out to a mile for the first time after proving himself to be a good sprinter.

"He just got beat. He didn't shut it down," Baffert said. "He wasn't exhausted when he came back, so it was a good experience for him. It was the first time he was able to rate off of horses. I think he got a lot out of it."

Rafael Bejarano said Secret Circle showed a big kick at the top of the stretch, when he was battling Longview Drive for the lead.

"At the same time, he started looking at the horse on the rail," Bejarano said. "My horse tried to stay close to him and that's why he lugged in. That's when I started hitting him. He passed the inside horse, but wasn't paying attention to the outside horse (Out of Bounds)."

Coming off the stretch turn, Gomez thought he was going to run right by Secret Circle.

"But this horse is just young enough to where he doesn't quite understand everything about the game yet," he said. "I had to spank him a couple times to let him understand what I was wanting from him, and when I got into him a little bit he progressed and went forward."

Baffert was noncommittal on his future plans for Secret Circle, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, the trio who owned 2010 Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky.

Handsome Mike was fourth and Hierro fifth.



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