11/02/2011 1:35PM

Breeders' Cup: Secret Circle's race to lose in Juvenile Sprint

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Barbara D. Livingston
Secret Circle, trained by Bob Baffert, is the 6-5 morning-line favorite.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When the Breeders’ Cup officially begins Friday with the inaugural running of the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint, the race will carry a familiar Breeders’ Cup theme – Bob Baffert has a prominent contender.

Baffert, a seven-time Breeders’ Cup-winning trainer, has the 6-5 morning-line favorite in Secret Circle, one of nine horses Baffert is expected to run at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday.

Although Baffert also holds strong hands in other races, none appear as likely to win as Secret Circle. The colt has dazzled in both of his two starts, winning his debut on Polytrack by 7 1/4 lengths at Del Mar on July 23 and the six-furlong Jack Goodman on dirt at Santa Anita by 5 1/4 lengths. He earned Beyer Speed Figures of 97 in both starts, the fastest figures posted by any of the nine colts and geldings in the Juvenile Sprint.

Many expect Secret Circle to be the heaviest favorite in the Breeders’ Cup, potentially starting at shorter odds than Turbulent Descent, the Filly and Mare Sprint favorite, and Goldikova, the popular French filly who goes for her fourth straight victory in the Mile.

Beyond Secret Circle, the Juvenile Sprint appears a scramble. Of the eight other entrants, only three have won stakes: Vexor, Jake Mo, and Shumoos; Jake Mo and Shumoos are longshots at 20-1 and 15-1.

Trainer Tom Amoss said the lack of quality depth behind the favorite played a part in his decision to run 15-1 outsider Sum of the Parts.

“Obviously, a horse like Secret Circle is a very formidable horse,” he said. “But if for some reason he doesn’t run his race, it opens it up to a lot of possibilities, and we’re one of those possibilities.”

Sum of the Parts holds the hometrack edge. He is the only horse in the race with a win over surface, having taken a maiden race going 4 1/2 furlongs at Churchill on May 14. Since then, he has finished fourth in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill, fifth in the Sapling at Monmouth, and second in the Kip Deville Stakes on Oct. 7 at Remington Park.

Somewhat surprisingly, the Kip Deville, an ungraded $75,000 stakes, generated two Juvenile Sprint entrants. Jake Mo ran his way into the Breeders’ Cup with a third-place finish.

The only stakes race that produced more Juvenile Sprint starters was the Grade 2 Nashua at Belmont on Oct. 2, which Vexor won over runner-up Trinniberg and third-place Seeker – all three return in the Juvenile Sprint.

Vexor and Trinniberg were clearly the superior duo in the Nashua finishing well ahead of Seeker, who lost by 5 1/4 lengths after stalking the pace in an intimidating inside position.

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint: Get graded entries, comments by Brad Free, and more

“I didn’t think he showed a lot of urgency that day, and I’ve put a little more pressure on him since then,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “I want him to go somewhere. In the Nashua he was in a spot, but he wasn’t doing a lot to change it himself.”

In poor turn of luck at the draw, Seeker landed on the rail.

There is no shortage of speed to his outside, including Holdin Bullets, a wire-to-wire maiden winner of his only race, going 4 1/2 furlongs, and Trinniberg, the pacesetter and runner-up in both the Nashua and Hopeful stakes earlier this year.

Trinniberg’s owner, Shivananda Parbhoo, has the most riding on the race. He supplemented his colt with a horse-of-racing-age nomination for $100,000, a high-risk move that means Trinniberg must win Friday for Parbhoo to make a profit.

Parbhoo also supplemented Giant Ryan for $100,000 to run in Saturday’s $1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint. Both of his horses will now be Breeders’ Cup-nominated for the length of their careers.

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  HORSE / TRAINER JOCKEY LAST 3 BEYERS COMMENT ODDS
Secret Circle
B. Baffert
R. Bejarano 97, 97 Fast, unbeaten colt deserving favorite new addition to BC race menu 4-5
Seeker
S. Asmussen
J. Leparoux 67, 95, 76 Two ordinary efforts sandwich terrific wet-track score two starts back 6-1
Vexor
J. Kimmel
D. Cohen 80, 0, 80 G2 winner on "good" track, his career-high 80 Beyer is only average 6-1
Holdin Bullets
W. Ward
J. Sanchez - Lone start was wire job in April, trainer-owner may have ace up sleeve 8-1
Blacky the Bull
J. Bonde
P. Valenzuela 83, 53, 74 Improving come-from-behinder in sprint likely to unfold swift pace 10-1
Trinniberg
B. Parboo
C. Velasquez 78, 78, 35 Stuck on 78s (Beyer), somehow managed to place in dubious G1 & G2 10-1
Sum of the Parts
T. Amoss
R. Maragh 78, 64, 71 Rounding back into form, the only entrant with a start (win) at CD 15-1
Shumoos
B. Meehan
G. Gomez n/a, n/a, n/a Euro shipper faces North American speed, winner turf and synthetic 20-1
Jake Mo
A. Milligan
M. Smith 73, 81, 81 Third-place comeback was first start nearly three months, can improve 20-1