Secret Circle Seeks Belated First Win in Midnight Lute

Former BC Sprint winner Secret Circle has finished second or third in his four 2014 outings   (Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Runner-up in his title defense of the November 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint and also in last month's Cigar Mile, Secret Circle seeks to get back on the winning track on Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Midnight Lute at Santa Anita.

The Midnight Lute, at 6 1/2 furlongs, supplants the Vernon O. Underwood, formerly run at the now-defunct Hollywood Park. It it one of three stakes on Saturday's program.

Winless since taking the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint, Secret Circle began the year finishing second by a neck in the Palos Verdes in February, but was not seen again until his third-place effort in the October 4 Santa Anita Sprint Championship. The five-year-old was second best to Work All Week by a half-length in the Breeders' Cup, and then finished five lengths behind Private Zone as the favorite in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on November 29.
Lining up against the favorite will be Grade 2 veteran Bahamian Squall; Seeking the Sherif, who took the $75,000 Katella at Los Alamitos before finishing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint; Grade 1-placed stakes winner Distinctiv Passion, runner-up in the Katella and most recently a turf allowance winner at Del Mar; and the multiple stakes-placed Appealing Tale, a two-time allowance winner at Santa Anita last winter.

The Grade 3, $100,000 Robert J. Frankel, for fillies and mares at nine furlongs on turf, features a rematch of the top three finishers from last month's 1 3/8-mile Red Carpet Handicap at Del Mar. Three Hearts prevailed that day by a half-length, with Lady of Gold edging Lady Pimpernel for second by a neck.

Diversy Harbor, who landed the $80,000 China Doll here in March, later placed in four graded stakes including the American Oaks. She was most recently second to Canadian classic winner Lexie Lou in the about 6 1/2-furlong Autumn Miss on October 25.

Other leading contenders are Rusty Slipper, Grade 3 winner of the Violet at Monmouth Park and a dead-heat third in the Rodeo Drive prior to a 10th place effort in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, and Blingismything, who makes her stakes debut off back-to-back allowance scores.

The $75,000 Eddie Logan, for two-year-olds at one mile on the turf, features Daddy D T, who landed the Oak Tree Juvenile at Del Mar prior to a third-place effort in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Stormy Liberal and Rock Shandy, second and third in the Cecil B. DeMille; Zuma Beach runner-up Red Button; Del Mar turf maiden winner Bolo; and Irish import Ernest Shackleton are other leading contenders.