Southwest Winners Fit Separate Profiles

It appears – to paraphrase the song about New York – that the Southwest Stakes (gr. III) has become the race “so good they ran it twice.” Since 2004, when Smarty Jones swept the series en route to victories in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the Oaklawn Park road to the Triple Crown – the Southwest Stakes (gr. III), Rebel Stakes (gr. II), and Arkansas Derby (gr. I), the latter with a $1,000,000 purse has become an extremely popular one. The first of the stepping stones, the Southwest Stakes – which since Smarty Jones has been taken by such as Lawyer Ron, Teuflesberg (TrueNicks,SRO) (with Hard Spun (TrueNicks,SRO) back in fourth), twice classic-placed Denis of Cork (TrueNicks), Old Fashioned (TrueNicks,SRO), and Archarcharch (TrueNicks,SRO) – is an interesting starting point as it draws together the stretching-out speedsters as well as those whose pedigrees and running style point more toward classic distances. This year’s Southwest Stakes proved so popular that it was run in two divisions, and Bob Baffert supplied the winners of both: one a stretching-out speedster and the other a classic prospect.

The speedster is Secret Circle, who was one of the quickest 2-year-olds of 2011, going three-for-three with wins in 5½-furlong Santa Anita maiden; the six-furlong Jack Goodwin Stakes (which he took in 1:08.27); and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint, where he tore through an opening quarter in :20.96, but hung on to score by a length. In his only other start prior to the Southwest, Secret Circle was run down close to home by the promising Out of Bounds (from the first crop of Discreet Cat (TrueNicks,SRO)) in the one-mile Sham Stakes (gr. III). In the Southwest, Secret Circle proved that he could carry his speed at least a mile, wearing down the front-running Scatman (another nice one from the first crop of Scat Daddy (TrueNicks,SRO)) to score by a length.

Despite what we’ve seen from him on the track to date, Secret Circle isn’t bred to be an out-and-out speed-merchant. He’s the first stakes winner from the first three crops sired by Eddington (TrueNicks,SRO), who was smart at 3, when he won the Calder Derby (gr. III), and placed in the Preakness, Travers, and Wood Memorial Stakes (all gr. I), but better at 4 when he captured the Gulfstream Park Handicap (gr. II) in a new track record, and the Pimlico Special (gr. I). Secret Circle’s dam, the Dixieland Band mare Ragtime Hope, did win the Catcharisingstar Stakes at five furlongs, but she also took the 8½-furlong Noble Robyn Stakes, and was fourth in the nine-furlong Calder Oaks. Ragtime Hope is a half sister to Really Polish, a Polish Numbers filly whose credits included the Dogwood Stakes (gr. III) and a third in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Their dam, Good ‘n Smart (by Smarten), is a sister to the Suwannee River Handicap (gr. III) victress Chesire Kitten. The fourth dam, R Thomasina, does have connections to a couple of very fast horses, as she is granddam of Rise Jim, two-time winner of the Tom Fool Stakes (one gr. II, one gr. III), and is a sister to R. Thomas, whose premier victory came in the Vosburgh Handicap (gr. II). The family goes back to Lea Lark, ancestress of Leallah, Miswaki, Southern Halo, Lacovia, Tobougg, Jump Start (TrueNicks,SRO), Targowice, and Singletary (TrueNicks), to name but a few that come mind.

Secret Circle is a product of the Unbridled/Dixieland Band cross which hasn’t exactly been prolific, but has produced quality, the four stakes winners to represent it being graded winner Cotton Blossom, the tragic Eight Belles, Secret Circle, and graded-winning and grade I-placed Sindy With An S.

Only a few days ago, we were noting on the Pedigree Consultants Facebook site that second season sire Street Sense (TrueNicks,SRO) was beginning to rumble. Well, having ended 2011 as tenth on the freshman list, he vaulted to the top of the second year horses following the victory of his son Castaway in the first division of the Southwest. Castaway began his career in sprints, but that didn’t prove to be his métier, and it wasn’t until his sixth start, when given a chance to try 8½ furlongs, that he got off the mark. Castaway came straight from that win, which came on December 11 last year, into the Southwest, and he underlined his preference for two turns when drawing off for a 3¼-length tally.

Castway is unlikely to inherit stamina limitations from his sire, as Street Sense not only won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) by ten lengths at 2, but four more stakes, including the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Travers Stakes (gr. I) at 3. Street Sense now has 20 first crop winners, and they also include the Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) victor Motor City, the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) third Miss Netta, and Fleet Street, who is three-for-three in Japan, including wins in a pair of local stakes events.

Castaway is out of the Storm Cat mare Priceless Storm, a half sister to the the prematurely-deceased Master Command (three-time graded winner, including the Meadowlands Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. II) and New Orleans Handicap (gr. II)) and to the Selene Stakes (gr. III) and Sabin Stakes (gr. III) victress Aurora Lights. Priceless Storm is out of Lady Lochinvar, a Lord At War daughter who is a sister to grade I winner La Gueriere (dam of grade I winner Icon Project, and grade II winner Lasting Approval, and granddam of Munnings (TrueNicks,SRO)) and of Lord of Warriors, a earner of $750k in Hong Kong. She’s also a half sister to grade I winner Al Mamoon, graded winner Lost Soldier, and stakes winner Born Wild. The third dam, Lady Winborne, is about as well-bred a mare as one could hope to find as she is a Secretariat half sister to the great European mare Allez France. In addition to those mentioned above, Lady Winborne is ancestress of at least seven other stakes winners, including the Woodford Turf Classic (gr. I) captor Honor In War (another by Lord At War), and the 2010 Super Derby (gr. II) victor Apart. This is a branch of the La Troienne family that goes back via champion 2-year-old filly Priceless Gem (the dam of Lady Winborne), Searching, and Big Hurry.

Castaway is one of only four starters for Street Sense out of Storm Cat mares, but his sire Street Cry has three stakes winners and five stakes-placed horses out of mares by Storm Cat and his sons, including the grade II-winning Desert Party (TrueNicks,SRO).

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