Race of the Week 2017

Rebel Recap - Secret Circle and Baffert just keep winning

Today’s Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park was supposed to be the race where a new shooter would step up and announce themselves as a real player in the chase for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Clearly favored Secret Circle and his ubiquitous trainer, Bob Baffert, had other plans. 
In a race that looked eerily similar to the faster division of last month’s Southwest Stakes, Secret Circle, under rider Rafael Bejarano, sat comfortably in the catbird’s seat behind the early pace set by Unbridled’s Note and Scatman. As his old rival from the Southwest, Scatman, took over the lead, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint victor sprang into action on the outside. As he has done now in each of last three victories, Secret Circle wavered a bit down the lane, well of the rail, but had more than enough class to put away Scatman at the sixteenth pole. It looked like he was home free from there for an easy victory, but longshot Optimizer put in a spirited rally late, while also running a less than straight course, to get somewhat close to the even-money choice at the wire. 
The final margin was three-quarters of a length, as Secret Circle completed the 1 1/16 miles of the Derby prep in 1:44.55 over the fast track.
The win marked not only the third consecutive Rebel win for Baffert, he previously won with Lookin at Lucky and The Factor the past two years, but it also was the third straight victory for the popular trainer on Oaklawn’s Derby trail, as he swept both halves of the Southwest, Castaway being the other winner. After the Southwest, many wondered which horse Baffert would bring back for the Rebel. The decision to come with Secret Circle was given full approval by a happy Bejarano after the race.
“I’m glad they made the decision to bring him back here. It was the right decision. He was really ready today. The key was getting him to relax. He has lots of talent.”
The talent is obvious, and say what you will about Secret Circle’s perceived ability not to handle the distance; the plain truth is this horse keeps winning. In six lifetime races, the son of Eddington now has five wins, with four of them coming in stakes races. His only defeat was a narrow second place finish to the now injured Out of Bounds, and that came in his seasonal debut in the Sham Stakes.
As for the next step for the Michael Pegram owned Secret Circle, assistant trainer, Jim Barnes may have tipped their hat as to a return trip to Hot Spring. “It looks like he will (keep going). Bob will decide all that, but we did what we had to today. He got the mile-sixteenth and showed he could rate a bit. I’ll be getting my room for the Arkansas Derby tomorrow.”
If it is indeed the million dollar Arkansas Derby next month, and then the 1 ¼ mile Kentucky Derby after that, I have little doubt that his ability to get the distance will be questioned once again. I probably will be one of those questioning his chances, but one thing is for sure, Secret Circle is a hard horse to knock. Today in the Rebel, he was the best horse, as he has been just about every time he has run.
 Photo courtesy of Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park


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Older Comments about Rebel Recap - Secret Circle and Baffert just keep winning...

Thanks for ijncluding Hansen, some just can't forget the Holy Bull
Alpha,Creative cause,Elpadrino, Union Rags, Hansen, Gemologist Dullahan, Take Charge indy etc.. Secret circle may fit next after these IMO then after that the Rebel field is no better than 20-100
Tim, who do you regard as true stars? Thanks.
Hes will be swallowed up by the true stars of the 3 year old division soon.
when a colt wins as easily as that, with much in reserve, it may not shout outstanding, but it really showed dominance
IMO the REBEL was lousy.. Not 1 horse in this race is in my top 12.
Baffert said the horse was barely blowing after the race and has been pulling himself up when he believes he makes the lead. His time, was not horrible in the least, second fast of the day in fact, and many other horse in Rebel History have won in a similar time. Horses like Curlin, Lawyer Ron, and Victory Gallop all ran 1.44 times. I have watched the replay and it was not like the horse was getting rubber legged or shortening stride, it was more Optimizer just closing.
Biscuit and war Admiral are almost out of the last turn, and it's in between the "and they're head n' head."s
secret circle has alot of talent and is all heart and has a real chance to get the 1 1/8 to win the AK Derby. With that said, I think he is a cut below at least the top 5 Derby Contenders and 1 1/8 I believe will be his distance limitation. Wondering why Great Howe is showing having no graded earnings? I think he has a real chance in the Toyata Blue Grass. If he wins this one, he could be on the Derby radar as a legit sleeper.
All I heard in the Biscuit/Admiral race was "And there head n' head"! lol
This horse is bred for distance being that the broodmare was out of Dixieland Band who was an excellent broodmare sire. He's solid on top. I think he's just a little green but I loved the way Bejarano settled him down in the stretch run. As for Optimizer and whether he changed I watched two different views and couldn't get a look, anyone else know anything about that?
Don't understand the doubt either, SC was great, and looked like there was more where that came from. So. Yet another real contender. Hope,this keeps up. I hear the announcer I the Seabiscuit/War Admiral race all fired up saying "This is a REAL horse race!"
That was a very exciting race, and to me, it's what the Derby Trail should be all about. Good horses, prepping in good races...not shying away from some real competition, not looking for an easy spot. All the runners in that race will likely benefit from the effort, whether they go on to Kentucky or not. Also, could Baffert quit now and still be named Trainer of the Year?! The man is in some kind of zone!! His is the only name I see in the headlines in this day to day run-up to the first Saturday in May!
this horse is proving its 2 yo breeders cup mettle on the derby trail, unlike an overly hyped horse we followed last season.
Between the AR Derby and KY Derby he'll certainly have two more chances to move forward and silence his critics.
Every time he races we're swamped with reasons he can't win at the new distance he's trying. This horse has been steeped in doubt his entire career.
He had the race won, what doubt?
One of the great things about Optimizer's run at the end is we still have a reason to doubt Circle can get it done at the next level. That's good for Circle. He seems to run best when we all doubt him.
Looked like he was all out to get the 1 1/16th. Optimizer didn't change leads down the lane after a five or six path rally intoi the stretch .. interesting Rebel for sure.
He was my win pick today. I may pick against him if he faces better, but so far that's only happened once, and in that case I did choose Out Of Bounds. Good team--Bejarano on Secret Circle.

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