The Oaklawn Park 3-year-olds are one step closer to Kentucky Derby 2012 following Secret Circle‘s game performance in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes on Saturday.
G2 Rebel Stakes: (3-17–12): 92 BSF (Secret Circle)
Longshot Unbridled’s Note and Southwest runner-up Scatman made the running with Cyber Secret chasing and Secret Circle rating kindly in 4th. The top four retained their positions through six furlongs (1:11.42) with Unbridled’s Note the first to crack.
Scatman kicked clear on the bend with Cyber Secret going one-paced. Secret Circle was set down for the drive under Bejarano and went by Scatman with a sixteenth to go. Optimizer found his best stride late and was gaining on the Baffert trainee approaching the wire.
In the end, it was Secret Circle by 3/4ths of a length with Optimizer completing the exacta and Scatman rounding out the trifecta. Jake Mo got up for 4th, followed by Cyber Secret and a belated Najjaar. Adirondack King, Sabercat, Pee H Dee, Reckless Jerry, Atigun, and a tired Unbridled’s Note completed the dirty dozen.Ring It Up scratched.
I have always been a fan of Secret Circle and love his tenacity and winning spirit but he seems to be reaching the end of his rope in regards to stamina. I have always believed that Optimizer was better on turf/synthetic, so based on those statements, along with the moderate final time in Arkansas on Saturday, I doubt this was a top notch Derby prep.
Rebel Stakes Grade: C
Earlier in the week, Gemologist returned in the pink vs. four Allowance rivals at Gulfstream Park.
Gulfstream Park Allowance: 95 BSF (Gemologist)
Gemologist, originally pointing to the G2 Rebel Stakes, stayed in South Florida instead and made short work of Currency Swap and friends on March 16.
The Pletcher/Winstar colt made the lead in the flat mile affair around one turn and widened his advantage throughout, crossing the line seven in front. Currency Swap was clearly second best in his needed return and was followed by Angel’s Tune, Jordan’s Image, and Brother Pat.
It was tough to get a true gauge on this one. Gemologist looked good and earned a decent enough number but Team Pletcher took the easy way out. Gemologist has been in my Derby top ten for many months and is currently ranked 4th. This decision by Pletcher reminds me of Uncle Mo in the Timely Writer. The Rebel was ripe for the taking and would have been a much better Derby prep because it was a graded two turn affair against moderately tough competition.
At any rate, Gemologist remains undefeated and needs to pick up somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000 in graded earnings next time to make the gate on the first Saturday in May.
Gemologist’s Allowance Race Grade: C+