08/17/2011 3:41PM

Del Mar: Sarah's Secret won't be held back

Benoit & Associates
Sarah's Secret, with Rafael Bejarano up, wins the Honeymoon at Holllwood Park.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Sarah’s Secret lost her unbeaten record with a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar on July 24, but emerged with an excuse that could make her an intriguing participant in a tough running of the $250,000 Del Mar Oaks on Saturday.

In the San Clemente, Sarah’s Secret was third for the first six furlongs under jockey David Flores, and faded through the stretch to finish 5 1/4 lengths behind race winner Up In Time. Trainer Kathy Walsh said on Wednesday that Sarah’s Secret had trouble breathing in that race when she was held up behind the leaders.

“She got in a little tough with the rider and displaced,” Walsh said, referring to the filly losing her air.

Walsh, who is based at Santa Anita this summer, worked Sarah’s Secret five furlongs in 1:00.60 on the main track there on Tuesday, the fastest of 13 works at the distance. The workout left Walsh confident that Sarah’s Secret has recovered from the San Clemente.

“Sometimes, horses have trouble getting over that, but we have worked her twice since,” she said.

For the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, new jockey Joel Rosario is likely to have Sarah’s Secret near the front.

“The other day we took her back, and it wasn’t the right thing to do,” Walsh said. “We can’t choke her down.”

Owned by breeder Joan Hadley and Al and Sandee Kirkwood, Sarah’s Secret has won 4 of 5 starts. She won her stakes debut in the Grade 2 Honeymoon Handicap over 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park on June 11, the same distance as the Del Mar Oaks. In that race, she set a moderate pace and held off a late threat from Star Billing and Cambina.

Nereid and Cambina finished in a dead heat for first in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park last month, with Star Billing third. Those three fillies, and Up In Time, are among the leading contenders for the Del Mar Oaks.

Friday's pick six shifted

Friday’s seven-race program has resulted in changes to the betting format.

The pick six will begin in the second race, a race earlier than it would on an eight-race program. Other bets remain in the same place. The pick five will be held on the first five races, and a pick four on the final four races.

Seven-race programs are scheduled for the final three Fridays of the meeting, including Aug. 26 and Sept. 2, and allow the track to continue with a uniform first post of 4 p.m. on Fridays. In past seasons, the track has shifted first post time on Fridays toward the end of the meeting to earlier in the afternoon to accommodate holding an eight-race card before sunset.