02/18/2012 3:07PM

Oaklawn: Southwest split in two, thanks to 21 entries

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Tom Keyser
Secret Circle, winner of last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint, will try to win going two turns for the first time in the second division of Monday's Grade 3 Southwest.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Oaklawn Park is having a two-for-one special on graded earnings Monday.

The Southwest Stakes, the track’s first major prep for 3-year-olds, has been split into two divisions after 21 horses were entered Saturday. Each race will be a Grade 3 worth $250,000. Longview Drive and Junebugred will break side by side in the first division, which will go as the eighth race with a field of 11. Secret Circle leads the second division, set as the ninth race and the second half of a special daily double linking the twin Southwests.

In addition to being a rare split of a significant stakes, the Southwest’s configuration is also noteworthy. The two-turn, one-mile race will end at the sixteenth pole, as do all races at the distance at Oaklawn.

“You’ve got to be in the race at the quarter pole,” said Steve Hobby, a longtime local trainer who sends out Junebugred. “You’ve got to be somewhere in range there. You can’t come from way, way back.”

Secret Circle, winner of the inaugural $500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint in November, seems like an ideal fit because of his quickness. The question will be distance. Secret Circle is unbeaten at one turn, but will be seeking his first win going two turns on Monday. In his initial route attempt, Secret Circle was second by a half-length in the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita on Jan. 7.

“I’m going to try him two turns one more time,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Secret Circle for Karl Watson, Mike Pegram, and Paul Weitman. “I like the mile, with his speed.

“His last race wasn’t a bad race. He’s fast. He never got a breather, probably won’t get another one.”

Secret Circle earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 98 in the Sham. He will break from post 9, under regular rider Rafael Bejarano.

Secret Circle will face Cyber Secret, who put up a career-high Beyer of 96 for a front-running, 5 1/4-length allowance win at 1 1/16 miles at Oaklawn on Feb. 4.

“He did everything like he was supposed to,” said Lynn Whiting, who trains Cyber Secret for Oaklawn president Charles Cella. “We’ll see if there’s a forward move in him.”

Adirondack King is moving to two turns for trainer John Servis and jockey Stewart Elliott, who teamed to win the Southwest in 2004 with eventual Kentucky Derby hero Smarty Jones. Adirondack King comes off a third-place finish in the $65,000 Pasco at seven furlongs at Tampa Bay on Jan. 14.

“He had to weave through a lot of traffic and he was running late,” Servis said. “Stew seems to think he’s dying to go two turns, and with his pedigree, you would sure think so. He acts like that.

“He did run two turns second start of his life, but he came out of the race sick. It’s a throw-out race.”

In the first Southwest division, Longview Drive, like Secret Circle, exits the Sham. He was third by a length in while making his first start since November.

“He was on the lead and was challenged at the end of the race and dug in gamely,” said Jerry Hollendorfer, who trains Longview Drive for Steve Beneto. “It was his first start in a while.”

Longview Drive, a two-time stakes winner, will break from post 5 under Martin Garcia. He has tactical speed, which should serve him well Monday.

“He doesn’t have to have the lead or come from way out of it,” said Hollendorfer.

Junebugred was a neck winner of the $100,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on Jan. 16, a mile race in which he tracked the pace and fired, shuttling through a seam on the rail to edge Reckless Jerry.

“I would like to have a stalking trip, and make the same kind of move,” Hobby said. “I just hope I don’t have to rely on a little hole opening up on the rail again. But I think he’s pretty adaptable. If there’s no pace, he could be close. If there’s a lot of pace, he can lay off.”

Reckless Jerry came rolling from post 12 in the Smarty Jones.

“I thought you couldn’t ask for any more,” trainer Kenny Smith said of the effort. “If we had the inside, we’d have been able to save a little ground. That might have changed things.”

Shane Laviolette rides from post 8.

Laurie’s Rocket set the pace from the rail in the Smarty Jones and finished fifth, beaten two lengths for everything.

“I think he’s better coming from back just a little bit,” said trainer Dallas Stewart. “I think the one-hole last time, he broke so well he was committed.”

Laurie’s Rocket breaks from post 10, under Calvin Borel.