Tough times continue for Secret Circle

Arcadia, CA ( – Former Breeders’ Cup Sprint champ Secret
Circle continues to fall short in his struggle to find the winner’s circle for
the first time since claiming the biggest race of his career.

Trained by Bob Baffert, Secret Circle was one of six older horses going six
furlongs in Saturday’s $200,000 Palos Verdes Stakes at Santa Anita. The 6-
year-old was ridden by Martin Garcia from post 4.

Sent off as the 2-1 co-favorite with Distinctiv Passion, Secret Circle
prompted the pace as Distinctiv Passion pulled the field up the backstretch.
Secret Circle had a short lead coming off the final turn but was soon joined
by 5-1 fourth pick Conquest Two Step and jockey Joe Talamo.

Secret Circle and Conquest Two Step battled through the stretch but it was
Conquest Two Step prevailing by 1 1/4 lengths at the wire and stopping the
timer at 1:08.10. Wild Dude, the 3-1 third choice, was third followed by
Distinctiv Passion, Big Macher and Chief Lion.

“He had a perfect trip. I was very happy to see three horses in a speed duel.
I just stayed outside and he wasn’t even getting any dirt in his face. What a
race he ran,” Talamo said.

Conquest Two Step returned $13.00, $5.40 and $3.20. Secret Circle paid $4.00
and $3.00, and Wild Dude paid $3.00 to show.

Secret Circle has not won since the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Santa Anita.
In five starts last year he had three seconds, a third and a fourth. He was
the 3-10 favorite in the Midnight Lute at Santa Anita on Dec. 27 but finished
fourth behind Distinctiv Passion.

Conquest Two Step, trained by Mark Casse for Conquest Stables, made his 2015
debut a winning one and earned $120,000. The 4-year-old colt has won three of
10 career starts for $209,408.

“They set it up nice for him. I was smiling pretty big down the backside (at
the fractions) watching those three go at it,” Casse said. “We’ll enjoy this
one today and hopefully try to win another one.”

The Palos Verdes is Conquest Two Step’s initial stakes victory. He lost a neck
decision in December’s Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita to Shared Belief.

“We were high on his last race, when he ran second to Shared Belief,” Talamo
commented, “and I know a lot of people thought it was a fluke but he really
ran that same race again today.”