06/07/2011 1:25PM

Hollywood Park: Honeymoon Handicap will be big test for unbeaten Sarah's Secret


INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Last fall, after Sarah’s Secret won her first two races in promising style, trainer Kathy Walsh decided she had seen enough. She gave the filly the winter off, planning for a resumption of racing this spring.

“She needed to grow and needed some time,” Walsh said. “She was getting a little wound up.”

Sarah’s Secret was off from early October to May 1, when she extended her unbeaten streak to three races with a stylish win in an allowance race over six furlongs on turf. That winning streak will be risked in Saturday’s $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on turf, Sarah’s Secret’s first start around two turns.

Walsh, never one to boast, is quietly confident that Sarah’s Secret is ready for the Grade 2 Honeymoon. Sunday, Sarah’s Secret breezed a half-mile in 46 seconds at Santa Anita.

“She’s coming along really well,” Walsh said. “I think she’ll get the distance of ground.”

Owned by breeder Joan Hadley, Sarah’s Secret has an all-South American pedigree. She is by the Brazilian-bred Leroidesanimaux, the Kentucky-based sire of Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, and is out of the Argentine-bred mare Sarasota, who was a multiple stakes-winning sprinter in that country.

The recent win in the allowance race was an eye-catching one. Sarah’s Secret was second to the eighth pole and pulled clear late to win by 1 3/4 lengths.

“I thought she ran a really good race,” Walsh said. “It was such an easy race on her. You don’t want a real taxing race, first race back.”

In the Honeymoon, Sarah’s Secret will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, who replaces David Flores. Saturday, Flores is booked to ride the multiple stakes winner Turbulent Descent in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Honeymoon, a key prep for the $250,000 American Oaks on July 16, is expected to have a field of eight – the stakes winners Cambina, Singapore Lilly, and Star Billing, the stakes-placed Entrustment and Whisper Louise, as well as Bonita Star and Up in Time.

The Honeymoon is one of four stakes on Saturday’s program, which is highlighted by the $250,000 Charles Whittingham Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf. The Grade 1 Whittingham will be the first meeting between defending champion Acclamation, the winner of three graded stakes on turf, and Bourbon Bay, a four-time stakes winner.

Other probable starters are Celtic New Year, Falcon Rock, Haimish Hy, and Red Alert Day. Haimish Hy won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last November and was third to Acclamation in the Grade 2 Jim Murray Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Coil, a Point Given colt trained by Bob Baffert, will be favored in the $100,000 Affirmed Handicap for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles. Coil was an impressive winner of an optional claimer over six furlongs on May 6, his first start of 2011.

Twirling Candy displays new dimension

Twirling Candy will be favored in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 9 following his second stakes win of the year in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes last Saturday.

The style of Twirling Candy’s win, coming from off the pace, instead of taking his customary position near the front, has left trainer John Sadler encouraged that the 4-year-old colt has more versatility than originally thought. Making his first career start without blinkers, Twirling Candy dropped as far back as sixth under jockey Joel Rosario in the Californian and closed well on the outside to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

“We were really happy,” Sadler said. “He’s a special horse. What he did was different but he looked wonderful.”

Sadler is hopeful that Twirling Candy can adapt to various circumstances in future races.

“Style-wise, he can do either when there is a normal pace and not one of the extremes,” Sadler said.

A troubled fifth as the 1-2 favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap in March, Twirling Candy is expected to face a Gold Cup field that will include defending champion Awesome Gem; Big Cap winner Game on Dude; Jeranimo, the winner of the 2010 Strub Stakes; and Setsuko and Aggie Engineer, who were second and third in the Californian.

In addition, Twirling Candy’s victory in the Californian ended a frustrating streak of 24 losses in stakes for Sadler that began in late February. During that time, Sadler had 11 second-place finishes and four third-place finishes, including Zazu in the Kentucky Oaks.

“Most guys don’t run in 24 stakes in a year,” Sadler told Hollywood Park publicity on Sunday.

Dubawi Heights, Malibu Pier eye Beverly D.


Dubawi Heights and Malibu Pier, who have won four graded stakes on turf between then since mid-March, are being pointed for the $750,000 Beverly D. Stakes at Arlington Park on Aug. 13, but may arrive at that race with different summer campaigns.

Dubawi Heights and Malibu Pier were first and fifth in the Grade 1 Gamely Stakes on May 30.

Trainer Simon Callaghan said on Tuesday that Dubawi Heights “will go directly to the Beverly D.”, which is run over 1 3/16 miles on turf. Dubawi Heights won the Grade 3 Wilshire Handicap at Hollywood Park in late April.

Malibu Pier, who won the Santa Ana Stakes and Santa Barbara Handicap at Santa Anita earlier this year, is being considered for the $150,000 Beverly Hills Handicap over 1 1/4 miles on turf on June 26 as a prep for the Beverly D., trainer Carla Gaines said.