Trainer and Jockey Take Both Southwest Divisions
Wouldn’t it be a dream to be able to tell everyone that you had just won the same stakes race twice in the same day? Well on President’ Day 2012 that’s not a joke because that is exactly what Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano are saying. Foreseeable maybe but the odds were too high to be considered seriously.
Because the race drew 21 entries today was the first time since 2002 that the Southwest Stakes had to be split into two separate divisions. So the stage was set for a big day of racing and on big days, the big boys come to play.
The first division featured a field of 11 horses and Castaway your eventual winner was the last to enter the starting gate on the far outside. Following a clean break from the post Bejarano did an outstanding of job getting his horse out towards the front of the pack. As they approached the first turn Bejarano settled in just off the rail and placed Castaway in 2nd as they made their way down the back stretch.
Positioned well with Majestic Stride on his inside shoulder and on the lead, Castaway pulled even going into the final turn before taking the control of the race at the top of the stretch. After that there was no looking back. To sum it up and quote Oaklawn track announcer, Frank Mirahmadi: “It’s Castaway in a Run Away”.
And so the clock began to tick before the second division would break from the gate. Because Castaway was not the most likely Bob Baffert winner coming in and Secret Circle was, the chance of an improbable sweep was already picking up steam.
Secret Circle was entering the second division as the overwhelming favorite on the morning line and as it turned out the odds makers would be validated. Oddly enough not only would Rafael Bejarano be breaking from the 2nd furthest outside post in the 10 horse field, his break from the gate with Secret Circle was almost identical.
Bejarano got Secret Circle out clean and clear ahead of the field as he again settled right back into 2nd place as they made their way into the first turn. From there the two races continued to mirror each other until they made it to the top of the stretch. Riding right behind and just outside of the race leader Scatman Bejarano never let Secret Circle fall more than a length behind. So when they made the turn and hit the top of the lane a stretch duel was on.
Scatman was grinding it out along the rail and refusing to give up the lead before Secret Circle eventually wore him down and was able to get the last nod. Jockey Luis Quinonez and his colt fought gamely and made it much harder for Rafael Bejarano to win. But here’s to Rafael Bejarano for sticking with what worked for him the first time around. He knew know how to race from PP 10 in the first division and he rode the second division the exact same – smart and right to the winners circle.
Let’s take a look at the horses responsible for the Baffert, Bejarano Sweep
Castaway (KY) – Owned by: Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith Bred by: Hertrich/McCarthy Livestock LLC. Foaled Feb. 4, 2009 by Street Sense and Priceless Storm by Storm Cat 7 lifetime starts: 2-2-1 (Wins: MSW and Southwest Stakes)
That’s right Street Sense the 2007 Kentucky Derby winner is Castaway’s Dad. So his blood lines and pedigree are well in tact but his racing career has taken a little bit of time to develop. Coming into today Castaway had only raced in MSW races, 6 of them in fact. He ended his 2-yr-old campaign empty-handed but got on track in first race of the 3-yr-old season. The MSW win at Santa Anita on Jan 21 led him here where he now exits with his first ever graded stakes win after his first ever graded stakes entry.
So what we have is a horse without any real derby contender status until we see him race again. This monster win could very well be the start of his trail towards Kentucky and his $150,000 of graded stakes earnings will definitely come in handy. Castaway isn’t making a dent into our Derby Contender Rankings with this win but he’s only one race away from getting serious consideration.
Secret Circle (KY) – Owned by: Michael Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman Bred by: Willmott Stables Foaled April 13, 2009 by Eddington and Ragtime Hope by Dixieland Band
5 Lifetime Starts: 4-1-0 (Wins: MSW, Jack Goodman, BC Juvenile Sprint, Southwest)
This colt may be the most talented 3-yr-old in Bob Baffert’s barn and in comparison to Drill, winner of yesterday’s San Vicente, there is a very similar question – how far can he go? The Southwest was Secret Circle’s second career and consecutive race at a distance of 1 Mile. Last time out was his 3-yr-old debut and it turned to be a surprise to see him finish 2nd behind Out of Bounds in the Sham Stakes.
Since that race Out of Bounds catapulted himself into being a regular name on many Kentucky Derby rankings. Secret Circle on the other hand was not. His early career sprint success and big win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint are the main factors that keep him from being thought of as real derby distance contender. But that doesn’t mean this horse isn’t capable of going further under Baffert’s training.
Compared to Drill I favor Secret Circle to become a real derby contender. He’s worked his way into the last four of top 16 Derby Contender Rankings and after today he’s going to be pretty comfortable there until we see him again. Hopefully next race his when we will see him jump to a distance of at least 1 1/16 Mile for the very first time.
Rounding out the Southwest Stakes x 2 at Oaklawn, overall it was just something else and quite possibly an accomplishment that won’t be seen again in a very long time. Unbelievable. Congratulations to Bob Baffert and Rafael Bejarano, your Southwest Sweep was pretty sweet. Cheers.
Written by: Little Brink