Updated on 05/04/2012 4:13PM

Oaklawn Park: Secret Circle holds off fast-closing Optimizer in Rebel

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Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
Secret Circle looked home free in midstretch of the Rebel but had to dig in to hold off Optimizer.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Secret Circle handled the latest distance test in his escalating career Saturday at Oaklawn Park, when he beat a fast-closing Optimizer by three-quarters of a length in the Grade 2, $500,000 Rebel Stakes. In the process, Secret Circle gave his trainer, Bob Baffert, his third consecutive Rebel win in a streak that started with Lookin At Lucky in 2010 and continued with the The Factor in 2011.

Baffert said he wants to get Secret Circle back home to Southern California before making a decision on the horse’s next start. The Rebel is the local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby.

Secret Circle ($4) was making his first start beyond a mile in the Rebel, a mile and a sixteenth race that went with a field of 12 following the scratch of Ring It Up. Secret Circle broke sharply and settled in fourth behind Unbridled’s Note and Scatman, who took the field through fractions of 23.43 seconds for the opening quarter, 47.09 for the half-mile and 1:11.42 for six furlongs, while pushed along by Cyber Secret.

Secret Circle began to pick up steam at the three-eighths pole, coming between horses then going after Scatman, who started to scoot away from the field in the stretch. Secret Circle was resilient, pushing past Scatman, then holding off the late charge of Optimizer. Secret Circle won the mile and a sixteenth race on a track rated fast in 1:44.55. Last month he defeated Scatman in the second division of the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest Stakes.

“He gave me a big kick,” said Rafael Bejarano, the regular rider of Secret Circle. “He finished really well.

“Bob made the right choice to bring this horse back for this kind of race.”

Secret Circle has now won 5 of 6 starts, all for the partnership of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman.

“He’s moving forward,” Baffert said of Secret Circle. “He was working really well before he went there.”

Secret Circle earned $300,000 for his win in the Rebel, a race that was boosted in value by $200,000 over last year’s running. Overall, the horse has now earned $818,990. Secret Circle won the first stakes of his career in the Jack Goodman last October at Santa Anita. He proceeded to win the $454,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs, then won at two turns for the first time in last month’s Southwest at Oaklawn.

The remaining order of finish in the Rebel was Jake Mo in fourth, followed by Cyber Secret, Najjaar, Adirondack King, Sabercat, Pee H Dee, Reckless Jerry, Atigun, and Unbridled’s Note.

Handle on the 11-race card from all sources Saturday was $6,832,020. Attendance was 31,882.

Danny Christopher More than 1 year ago
Ran a 92 Beyer at a 1 1/16 losing ground....can not even come close to Hansen.
Kenneth More than 1 year ago
Secret Circle showed tremendous maturity and talent in winning the Rebel. Four wide late on the backstretch Bejarano was cool and had to believe he had some horse to turn for home and set Secret down for his winning run. Optimizer looked the part in the post parade and even at 27-1, a must use in my exacta. We will all see what shapes up for the Arkansas Derby and I believe Secret Circle only will get better with distance, it's in his blood? Stay healthy all...
Nick More than 1 year ago
Listen to trainers.....Lucas said Optimizer was his Derby horse last Nov. at the Breeder's Cup.....I got him at 120-1...that horse made up 6 lengths in the last 1/8........another example....the previous trainer of Court Vision said 18 months before he won the Mile that the horse doesn't like warm weather....it was a cold day last Nov in KY...LISTEN TO THE TRAINER!
Rodney Dangerfield More than 1 year ago
It was nice to see D Waynes horse run so well. It looked like he wanted to keep on running after the wire as well. Secret Circle is a nice horse, but I don't think he can win the Derby. D Wayne is good for this sport, lets hope this horse comes out of the race well, and can come back with another solid effort in the Arkansas Derby.
Chris Jones More than 1 year ago
Sabercat needed the race. The remaining 11 are throw-outs if any run in the KY Derby.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sabercat was a Derby throwout before yesterday.
hialeah More than 1 year ago
Seeing that I use DRFBets as my prime betting resource and they don't carry tracks like OP or FG or CD - why would I care? I can't bet these races! Handle and attendance not withstanding.
mace More than 1 year ago
Going by the spacing of the field from front to back I wouldnt think Secret Circle ran a higher speed figure than in the Southwest,because they must have not been running that fast up front for the distance.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think we all have seen the last of Secret Circle as far as being a DERBY Threat . I believe the Rebel answered mamy Questions reguarding how far can Secret Circle go ! Secret Circle has Heart . Really gives 100% ! The time , 1 4 4 . 5 5 . . . . that is not very encouraging to see the place horse Optimizer Galloped right past Secret Circle , along with two other horses as well - even though Secret Circle WON in Style . If I was BAFFERT , I would seriously CONSIDER bringing BODEMEISTER to the ARKANSAS DERBY . I would not consider ANY ONE OF THE HORSES FROM THE REBEL TO ( W I N ) or ( PLACE ) IN THE ARKANSAS DERBY . If I was a horseman - Owner , Trainer . . . . If I really needed Grade Earnings for the KENTUCKY DERBY , W O W - The ARKANSAS DERBY Looks to me to be a very SOFT - WEAK SPOT , and I would seriously reconsider going else-where . TAKE CHARGE INDY , BODEMEISTER should both come to compete in the ARKANSAS DERBY
Kenneth More than 1 year ago
Remember, this is a PREP race for the Derby, with Secret Circle winning @ Churchill Downs last year only adds positive's for this stud. His pedigree show's some promise for the added distances. It's shaping-up to be a good race and there are many question's still in need of answers...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They Ran Very Slow , 1 : 44 . 55 Two seconds slower than The Factor . A Beyer Of About 94
mace More than 1 year ago
Optimizer didnt close from that far back relatively speaking the 12 horses that ran were not that strung out from 1st to last.I dont know what to make of Optimizer because he might be an underlay in the Arkansas Derby.
Wayne Haehner More than 1 year ago
hows does that Lukas horse find that late spurt and kill what was otherwise an easy exacta? hard to believe....
Kenneth More than 1 year ago
Because the time was slow. When horses finish like Optimizer did yesterday, is in fact that the front runner's were tiring. I agree that was a heck of a finish and only on look's alone I threw in Optimizer into my exacta, he really looked great in the post parade as did many. Keep on plugging and stick to your gun's!