BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN & YOU’RE IN’ QUALIFIER ASSURES WINNER A BERTH IN $1.5 MILLION SPRINT
ARCADIA, Calif. (Oct. 1, 2014)–Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Secret Circle and last year’s BC Mile champ Goldencents head a field of six going six furlongs in Saturday’s Grade I, $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship.
Trained by Bob Baffert, Secret Circle has been idle since running a close second as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade II, six furlong Palos Verdes Stakes on Feb. 2, while trainer Doug O’Neill’s Goldencents comes off a huge 4 ¼ length win in the Grade II, seven furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes on Polytrack Aug. 24 at Del Mar.
Although he drew the rail, comebacking Secret Circle may rate a slight advantage as the defending Sprint champ. With four wins from five tries at six furlongs, Secret Circle is 5-3-2-0 at Santa Anita and he has been torching the track in the morning for his return. Along with a bullet six furlong move from the gate of 1:10.80 on Sept. 15, his most recent drill was a rapid 59 flat for five furlongs on Sept. 28–fastest of 83 at the distance. Going back to Aug. 7 at Del Mar, he has posted eight works for his return to action on Saturday.
Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, the 5-year-old horse by Eddington has lifetime earnings of $1,918,790 from an overall mark of 10-7-3-0.
A winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in 2013, Goldencents was an impressive gate to wire winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, as he cruised home under Rafael Bejarano by 2 ¾ lengths. Although his owners, W.C. Racing, had contemplated running him Saturday in Keeneland’s Grade I Shadwell Mile (turf), the decision was made to stay on dirt and thus consider a title defense in the BC Mile following a dull half mile work of 52.60 at Santa Anita on Sept. 20.
Second two starts back in the Grade I, six furlong Bing Crosby Stakes as the heavy 3-5 favorite, Goldencents was second, beaten a length three races back in the prestigious Grade I Metropolitan Handicap going a one-turn mile on June 7. He’ll seek his first win at six furlongs on Saturday, as he has three seconds from as many tries at the distance.
A 4-year-old colt by Into Mischief, Goldencents has worked three times since the Pat O’Brien, his most recent an impressive five furlongs in 59.60 “breezing” on Sept. 27. He has six wins and six seconds from 16 overall starts and earnings of $2,434,000.
With Kent Desormeaux sidelined due to injury, Florida-bred Merit Man could be flying late with Corey Nakatani aboard. Trained by Bob Hess Jr., Merit Man has solid credentials–as he is a winner of his most recent out, the five furlong Green Flash Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 13, and he was third in last year’s Grade I Florida Derby to eventual Kentucky Derby winner Orb. The 4-year-old colt by With Distinction also boasts two other minor stakes victories–the six furlong Tim Conway Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 6, 2012, and the six furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 1, 2013.
Owned by Chandler, Double Kee, LLC, and Purple Shamrock Racing, Merit Man is 9-4-1-1 overall with earnings of $462,030.
Trainer Mark Glatt will be represented by Ankeny Hill, who notched his first stakes victory in the restricted six furlong Pirate’s Bounty Stakes Sept. 3 at Del Mar and who is in search of his third consecutive win. A 4-year-old colt by Sharp Humor, he’s owned by his breeder, Dr. Rodney Orr. Speedy Ankeny Hill drew the outside post and will be ridden back by Tyler Baze.
The complete field for the Grade I Santa Anita Sprint Championship, to be run as the eighth race on a ten-race card Saturday, in post position order with jockeys and weights: Secret Circle, Martin Garcia, 121; Rich Tapestry, Olivier Doleuze, 119; Goldencents, Rafael Bejarano, 121; Merit Man, Corey Nakatani, 119; Indexical, Mario Gutierrez, 117, and Ankeny Hill, Tyler Baze, 119.