03/15/2012 2:51PM

Oaklawn: Baffert has Rebel horse to beat in Secret Circle


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Beat Bob Baffert.

That’s been the story of the Rebel the last two years, and the Oaklawn Park Grade 2 reads much the same on Saturday. Baffert has favored Secret Circle in the Rebel, which he won last year with The Factor and in 2010 with Lookin At Lucky.

The 1 1/16-mile Rebel, boosted to $500,000 this year after being worth $300,000, is a prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 14. It’s also one of two stakes on the card, with the Grade 3, $150,000 Azeri a springboard to the meet’s other Grade 1, the $500,000 Apple Blossom on April 13. The Rebel card traditionally has been the second-highest attended of the meet behind Arkansas Derby Day, with a crowd last year of 34,698. Officials said the infield would be opened Saturday, depending on the weather, and as of Thursday forecasters were calling for isolated thunderstorms and a high of 80 degrees.

Secret Circle, who has been the favorite in all five of his starts, is again the one to beat. He has won four times, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint and the second and faster division of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest last month at Oaklawn. Scatman, who finished a half-length behind Secret Circle in the Southwest, is back for a rematch Saturday, and the Rebel field of 13 also includes Sabercat, who will be making his first start since winning the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot in November.

Secret Circle tracked Scatman into the stretch of the Southwest, then bellied down to get past his determined rival in the one-mile race that ended at the sixteenth pole. He covered the distance in 1:37, and for the effort earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 102. The number is the best career Beyer in the field Saturday and tied for third-highest by a 3-year-old in North America this year.

“He bounced out of his race really well,” said Baffert, who trains Secret Circle for the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. “I think he’s kind of a horse that’s just starting to wake up a little bit. He’s done everything on just natural talent. He’s kind of the kid who’s real smart, didn’t do his homework, just gets through on natural talent.”

The Rebel will be Secret Circle’s first start beyond a mile.

“Eventually, we’re going to find his limitations,” Baffert said. “We’ll have to win the Rebel for me to think further distance, so we’ll see what he does, if he takes another step forward distance-wise.”

Baffert said he is hopeful Secret Circle will get the distance, based on a strong six-furlong work the horse turned in March 10, going in 1:11.60 at his Santa Anita base. Baffert said he has also been impressed with Secret Circle’s continued tenacity under racing conditions.

“He keeps winning and running faster and faster,” he said.

Rafael Bejarano has the mount.

Scatman ran the race of his life when he was second in the Southwest on Feb. 20, leading through six furlongs in 1:11.20 and then reaching down for more when engaged by Secret Circle. He has since had two controlled, five-furlong breezes at Oaklawn.

“He’s doing very good, and I think he can move forward,” said trainer Mike Lauer. “He’s stepped up physically. He’s just stepped forward, and the race didn’t really knock him out. I think he’s moved forward off the race.”

Scatman is one of many in the race moving past a mile for the first time.

“I think he’ll get the mile and a sixteenth, it’s just whether someone else gets it faster,” Lauer said. “But he’s very easy to deal with, very easy to rate.”

Luis Quinonez will ride Scatman, one of nine horses coming out of the twin divisions of the Southwest.

Sabercat had been targeting the San Felipe at his Santa Anita base, but the decision was made to push his 3-year-old debut back a week. It allowed for a six-furlong move in 1:12.60 on March 4.

“There’s more to him than there was last fall, physically, and I just thought we would benefit from one more stiffer work,” said trainer Steve Asmussen.

Sabercat is riding a three-race win streak into the Rebel. He overcame adversity to win the Jackpot in his last start Nov. 19, closing from last for a four-length win. It was a departure from the stalking style he used to capture the $75,000 Garden State at Monmouth Park in October.

“In the Jackpot he kind of came together with another horse, was away in a bit of a tangle, and at Delta they were showing pace and it ended up putting him farther back,” Asmussen said. “And he did get stopped pretty good around the turn, and then picked it up again.”

Corey Nakatani has the mount.

Cyber Secret, an allowance route winner this meet with a Beyer of 96, will be looking to recapture that form after moving up strongly on the final turn before fading to fifth in Secret Circle’s Southwest.

“He made a steady advance into a fast pace and those horses, they were duking it out at the three-eighths pole,” said trainer Lynn Whiting. “I think we should have went ahead and sat behind those horses, not gone out and joined them and tried to outrun them from the middle of the racetrack.

“As a result, we were empty at the quarter pole, and that’s when the real running started. I think tactically we got in a position in the teeth of the race, when the race was really strong, and I think we fired all our bullets. I think we played their game instead of ours.”

Robby Albarado will ride Cyber Secret for the first time Saturday.

TVG will be onsite Rebel Day. The race goes as the 10th of 11, with a post of 5:48 p.m. Central.

Rebel Stakes (G2), Post Time: 5:48 CT Saturday

Purse: $500,000; 1 1/16 mile





ML Odds


Ring It Up

C. Richard

L. Wade



Pee H Dee

C. Richard

I. Ocampo



Unbridle's Note

S. Asmussen

C. Hill




M. Lauer

L. Quinonez



Cyber Secret

L. Whiting

R. Albarado




D. Lukas

J. Court



Jake Mo

A. Milligan

M. Berry




S. Asmussen

C. Nakani



Secret Circle

B. Baffert

R. Bejarano




K. McPeek

T. Thompson



Reckless Jerry

K. Smith

J. Rocco, Jr.




D. Peitz

C. Borel



Adirondack King

J. Servis

S. Elliott



Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Atigun , I gave this Colt a long long look . And what threw me totally off of him was the fact that Earlier - Mike Watchmaker was so HIGH on this Colt on his next come-back race , to where if you view his preditions for the WEEKEND WARRIOR - The Rebel Stakes was not even mentioned , nor was in his Top 3 Tracks HMMMMMMM ! That was my ONLY REASON why I laid completely off of Atigun . May sound like a foolish reason , but hey - Mike Watchmaker is the HANDICAPPING PRO , and I felt wowwww
Rodney Dangerfield More than 1 year ago
Two other horses that could light up the board. #2 Unbridled's Note. Asmussen must think highly of this horse, hopefully he gets out of the gate today, if so you will see a much improved effort. I also think #1A Pee H Dee can improve if he can get a good trip. He has some good breeding and has had a few nice works since his last race. Well good luck to all.
Rodney Dangerfield More than 1 year ago
Don't forget to include Atigun in your exotics today. I'm not saying he will win, but he will run much faster today, and should not be overlooked. Also Anonymous, not trying to give you a hard time, but you should know that the 12 hole is not a place you want to be at this distance running a graded stakes at Oak Lawn. Good Luck to all !! 4-8 with 4-8-9 with 4-9-7-6-3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ii agree 100% with your way of thinking - reguarding #12 ! You are absolutely correct . The 12 Post Position is not too friendly at OAKLAWN . But with the distance that these Colts must have to travel today , I would say that the break will be normal and 12 will ease on over to the rail early on to save alot of ground , then swing out to the middle of the track in deep stretch for his big run . I really like his chances at Place or Show .
jose mesa More than 1 year ago
I also doubt you will get 8-1 on Scatman and 15-1 on Cyber Secret is a gift.Lets see if Secret Circle goes in the gate at more than even money with the reputation of Sabercat playing into that occurrence.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I doubt we'll get 8-1 on Scatman
Roy Sankar More than 1 year ago
sabercat ..najjar...optimizer...cyber secret...jake mo ...theres ur race
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OAKLAWN PARK is my back yard : I know how to play the ponies there better than simucast racing . I only wish some day OAKLAWN PARK up-grades their racing day where we get TWO RACING DATES or We get more days . Racing here seems way too short . THE REBEL : $100 WIN / PLACE #8 . . . . $20 EX BOX #8 - #12 . . . . . $10 TRI #8 WITH #12 OVER #2 , #3 , #7 ( 8 / 12 / 2 , 3 , 7 ) . . . . . $10 TRI #8 WITH #2 , #3 , #7 OVER #12 ( 8 / 2 , 3 , 7 / 12 ) $2 TRI ( #8 WITH #12 WITH ALL ) ( #8 WITH ALL WITH #12 ) I do not claim to be a Mr KNOW-IT-ALL because I am not that way at all . I DO LIKE TO VOICE MY OPINION WHEN IT COMES TO MY HOME TRACK - MY BACK YARD . This track has a nack of its own ! LETS ALL W I N !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i got to say , i believe you are in for a rude awakening anonymous reguarding your rebel wagers . . . . . . . . . . 1 1/16 is about the distance secret circle will be able to go , if that , a true miler for sure , but asking 1 1 / 16 maybe just abit too much , 2 unbridle notes ought to show awesome early speed after a poor start in the southwest , 4 cyber secret ought to be able to stay closer up thru-out stalking the pace saving ground this time around , 9 atigun ought to be able to pull off the UPSET with a GOOD-SET-UP run , 8 secret circle im just not too sure this race will set up as good as the southwest - i believe baffert made the right call by not bringing both again in likes of castaway which ran one whole second slower , 12 adirondack king - 7 sabercat should be able to make some noise in the rebel as well .......................................... 9 / 2 , 4 , 7 , 12 / 8 ....... 2 , 4 , 7 , 12 / 9 / 8
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lee Davis More than 1 year ago
I agree with the statement that a stalker will win the rebel. cyber secret or sabercat look like the upset horses! 4-8-7-11 for my super!
mace More than 1 year ago
I think 1st place will go to the pacesetter or a presser,I dont think a one run closer can get up for 1st.A midpack runner has a chance IMO as long as the field is not strung out too much.
mace More than 1 year ago
If Sabercat wins 1st race off the bench he will have to stay in contact with the frontrunners,which is very possible,in the Delta he had traffic troubles during the race which forced him to do his running from last.The two other wins Sabercat had were from close to the pace.Asmussen has another entry starting from post one that got a terrible start in the Southwest,if he breaks clean will probably help Sabercats chances.
Roy Sankar More than 1 year ago
sabercat is my first choice ...but if he doesn't win best believe the tote board will light up with a longshot!!!