01/07/2012 6:24PM

Santa Anita: Out of Bounds upsets Secret Circle in Sham

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ARCADIA, Calif. – Now that the calendar has turned to 2012, the West Coast’s 3-year-olds need to prove that they can stretch out and progress on their way to the Santa Anita Derby, and possibly the Kentucky Derby. The one-mile distance of the Grade 3, $100,000 Sham Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita was a testament to the path ahead, as Out of Bounds successfully stretched out in his stakes debut, while heavily favored Secret Circle, the unbeaten winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, failed to reproduce his best form in his first try around two turns.

Out of Bounds, given a clever, ground-saving ride by Garrett Gomez, wore down Secret Circle in the final yards to score a half-length victory in the Sham. Longview Drive, the early pacesetter, was another half-length back in third. Handsome Mike was fourth, and Hierro faded to finish last in the five-horse field after making a menacing move on the far turn.

Senor Rain was scratched.

Out of Bounds ($22.60) completed one mile on the fast main track in 1:34.56.

Out of Bounds only had a pair of sprints to his credit, a fourth-place finish in his debut here, followed by a win against maidens on Dec. 10 at Hollywood Park. But he made an impressive presence in the paddock, and ran to his looks.

“He’s very big, the better part of 17 hands, but he’s a gentle giant,” said Eoin Harty, who trains Out of Bounds. “He’s come around mentally as well as physically. He seems to be learning what we’re trying to teach him to do, and it paid off today.”

Longview Drive broke sharpest and went for the lead, as Secret Circle rated behind him through fractions of 22.66 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.89 seconds for a half-mile. Out of Bounds settled behind those leaders, on the rail, and patiently waited until Gomez spotted an opening at the top of the stretch.

At that point, Longview Drive yielded the lead to Secret Circle, and while Secret Circle was preoccupied with Longview Drive to his inside, Out of Bounds came outside both horses and got the money.

“He had a good trip, no excuse,” said jockey Rafael Bejarano, who had ridden Out of Bounds and Secret Circle in all their previous starts and stuck with Secret Circle, who went off as the 1-2 favorite. “He started looking at the horse to his inside and tried to lug in. He didn’t pay attention to the other horse.”

Out of Bounds was bred and is owned by the Darley Stable of Sheikh Mohammed. He is by Discreet Cat, and is out of Unbridled Elaine, who won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in 2001.