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Californians arrive for Southwest
The roar of the Tex Sutton retro-fitted Boeing 727 never fails to charge up Hot Springs Municipal Airport and Tuesday was no different as four shippers from California arrived safely including Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint winner Secret Circle and his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Castaway.
Also on the early-morning flight out of Ontario International, east of Los Angeles, was Longview Drive for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and Unbridled's Note for trainer Steve Asmussen. All are expected to square off in the Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest on Presidents Day.
Assistant trainer Jim Barnes accompanied Secret Circle and Castaway for Baffert. Secret Circle, who races for owners Karl Watson, Paul Weitmann and Mike Pegram, exits a runner-up finish in the Grade 3 Sham in what was his three-year-old debut and first race since winning the inaugural Juvenile Sprint at Churchill Downs in November. Castaway, a Kentucky-bred son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense owned by the powerful Irish-based Coolmore team, broke through with a maiden victory January 21 at Santa Anita in what was his sixth career race, but only his second around two turns.
"I think we brought two very good horses," said Barnes while setting up shop in the Kelso Barn in the Oaklawn barn area. Baffert trained Conveyance to win the Southwest in 2010 and won the Grade 2 Rebel the last two years with Lookin at Lucky and The Factor.
Longview Drive finished third in the Sham on January 7 for owner Steve Beneto, a half-length behind Secret Circle and only a length behind race winner Out of Bounds. He was a two-time stakes winner in Northern California last summer.
Unbridled's Note is owned by Mike McCarthy and has been training with Asmussen's California string this winter after winning his debut race Breeders' Cup week at Churchill Downs. Asmussen trained eventual Horse of the Year Curlin to win the Rebel and Grade 2 Arkansas Derby in 2007.
In other Southwest developments, Smarty Jones winner Junebugred worked a half-mile for trainer Steve Hobby Tuesday in a bullet :48 2/5 over a muddy track. Pee H Dee and Ring It Up, both owned by James McIngvale and trained by Chris Richard, went in company and fired bullet five-furlong drills in :59. Pee H Dee was third in the Springboard Mile in December and won an allowance race at Oaklawn January 16.