Secret Circle wins Golden Shaheen

Secret Circle powered home March 28 in the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen Sponsored by Gulf News, holding off the late-closing Super Jockey by a head after running down a determined Rich Tapestry at Meydan.

Three-wide in third early on and tracking off the pace set by Lucky Nine with Rich Tapestry in close pursuit, the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner struck the front coming off the turn and was all-out to preserve the decision over Super Jockey's outside rally. Rich Tapestry stayed on for third while El Padrino was fourth.

Racing for Mike Pegram, Paul Weitman, and Karl Watson, the 6-year-old son of Eddington completed the 1,200-meter (about six furlongs) test in 1:10.64, the quickest time thus far at the distance on the new Meydan dirt track.

This was the tenth victory for an American horse in 20 editions of the race, and Secret Circle's eighth victory from 16 starts for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. It was Baffert's first success in the race, having been second twice in the past.

"He jumped well," jockey Victor Espinoza said. "He swung wide with the two Hong Kong horses and he gave me a kick in the stretch. He was very brave at the finish to hang on. He's a top class horse. All his American form proves that and he's done the same here."

Completing the order of finish in the Golden Shaheen field of 13 were Big Macher, Cool Cowboy, Speed Hawk, Salutos Amigos, United Color, Shaishee, Lucky Nine, Krypton Factor, and Montridge. Murrab scratched.

It was the first win for Secret Circle since that Breeders' Cup Sprint victory in November 2013, although the lithe bay had been knocking at the door. Among six starts following the Breeders' Cup win, he finished second in the 2014 edition of the Sprint and was runner-up in the Cigar Mile Handicap last year, in addition to seconds in two consectuive editions of the Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita Park. He came off that most recent Palos Verdes loss, 1-1/4 lengths behind Conquest Two Step, to get the Golden Shaheen score.

Assistant trainer Dana Barnes accompanied Secret Circle to Dubai.

Secret Circle was bred by Willmott Stables out of the Dixieland Band mare Ragtime Hope. Purchased by bloodstock agent Dontao Lanni for $165,000 from the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s March 2011 selected sale of 2-year-olds in training, he won the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint as part of a three-race win streak at the start of his career. He won the 2012 Southwest Stakes and the Rebel Stakes before running second to stablemate Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby.

Sent to the sidelines after that 3-year-old series, he was not seen again until October of 2013 when he had one start, an allowance optional claimer victory, before he won the Breeders' Cup Sprint the next month.