10/02/2014 1:32PM

Secret Circle gets tightener for Breeders' Cup Sprint

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Secret Circle will be making his first start Saturday since finishing second in the Palos Verdes Stakes in February.

ARCADIA, Calif. – Autumn has proven to be the best season for Secret Circle.

Four of his seven career wins have come at this time of year, including the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs and the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last November. It would be no surprise if Secret Circle added another stakes win in Saturday’s $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.

The Grade 1 Sprint Championship is run over six furlongs and is part of the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program, offering a fees-paid berth to the BC Sprint here on Nov. 1.

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Earlier this week, trainer Bob Baffert emphasized that the BC Sprint is the main goal for Secret Circle, who has not raced since finishing second in the Grade 2 Palos Verdes Stakes last February. Still, Secret Circle’s sprint record makes him a formidable horse in Saturday’s race.

SANTA ANITA SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s card live

“He’ll be ready after this race,” Baffert said. “He’ll need the race. It will be a tightener for him.”

The Sprint Championship drew a field of six, including Goldencents, the winner of the BC Dirt Mile last November; the Hong Kong stakes winner Rich Tapestry; the stakes winners Ankeny Hill and Merit Man; and the longshot Indexical.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 1 Secret Circle. Trainer Bob Baffert is 10-4-0-0 with a $6.47 ROI over the past five years in graded stakes dirt sprints following a layoff of 180 days or more. Click for more details. Mike Hogan

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Sprint Championship, race 8

KEY CONTENDERS

Secret Circle (Last 3 Beyers: 103-98-104)

◗ Last April, Secret Circle was sent to Arkansas for the Count Fleet Sprint Championship at Oaklawn Park but did not start after being treated with a tranquilizer on a plane. The administration of the medicine occurred too close to the race.

:: DRF Live: Get real-time updates and insights from DRF reporters and handicappers starting at 12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday

Baffert said Secret Circle was ready to race at Del Mar, but he opted to wait for Saturday’s race for the 5-year-old horse’s comeback.

“I had to wait,” Baffert said. “It’s hard for a sprinter – especially him, he’s a strong, big horse – to keep in top form. I thought I’d just wait for the fall and Breeders’ Cup.”

:: BREEDERS’ CUP 2014: See DRF’s top contenders

Secret Circle breaks from the rail. He is likely to stalk the pace set by Ankeny Hill and Goldencents.

Goldencents (Last 3 Beyers: 109-100-110)

◗ Goldencents led throughout the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 24 and can easily win for the first time over six furlongs in his fourth career start at the distance Saturday.

“The game plan will be to let him break, run free, and let him lead or sit close,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “I think for the longest time we tried to dictate how he would run.”


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 3 Goldencents. Trainer Doug O’Neill is 17-0-2-0 over the past five years in Grade 1 sprints at Santa Anita. Click for more details. Mike Hogan


Rich Tapestry

◗ A 6-year-old gelding, Rich Tapestry will make his American debut. A stakes winner in Dubai in March, Rich Tapestry will be a stalker, trainer Michael Chang said.

“I think he’ll sit behind the pace,” Chang said. “I don’t think he’s fast enough to stay with the American horses when they jump off.”