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Apr 13, 2012

Arkansas Derby field led by Baffert horses


Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - Rebel Stakes winner Secret Circle and stablemate Bodemeister top a field of 11 three-year-olds for Saturday's $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. Both colts are trained by Hall of Fame member Bob Baffert.

Secret Circle has drawn post five with Rafael Bejarano in the saddle. Although Secret Circle has two stakes wins this year at Oaklawn, including a division of the Southwest, he is the 5-2 second choice behind 9-5 morning-line favorite Bodemeister.

Secret Circle, owned by Karl Watson, Paul Weitmann and Mike Pegram, has career earnings of $818,990 with five wins in six starts.

The colt began 2012 with a second-place finish to Out of Bounds in the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita and followed with the Southwest Stakes win on Feb. 20. He won last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint as the 2-5 favorite after claiming his first two starts.

"Secret Circle has been getting the distance so far," said Baffert. "He hasn't shown me he can't get it -- they can all get it until they show you they can't."

Bodemeister will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith from the far outside post in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Derby prep.

Owned by Zayat Stables, the colt will be making just his fourth career start on Saturday following a game second-place finish in the San Felipe Stakes behind Creative Cause at Santa Anita. Last week Creative Cause was second to I'll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby.

Bodemeister, a son of Empire Maker, has banked $104,800.

"This'll be a good race with some nice horses in there," Baffert said. "I think Bodemeister will be tough. These are two really good horses and even though I don't like to get ahead of myself, it's always special just to have a horse that has a chance in the Kentucky Derby, so hopefully we wind up with one of those on Saturday."

Here is the complete field from the rail out: Cozzetti, Jose Lezcano, 15-1; Stat, John Velazquez, 10-1; Najjaar, Calvin Borel, 15-1; Jake Mo, Cliff Berry, 30-1; Secret Circle, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Isn't He Clever, Robby Albarado, 6-1; Optimizer, Jon Court, 30-1; Atigun, Terry Thompson, 30-1; Sabercat, Corey Nakatani, 15-1; Raconteur, Chris DeCarlo, 15-1 and Bodemeister, Mike Smith, 9-5.

The 76th Arkansas Derby has a post-time of 6:45 p.m. (ET).

Smarty Jones in 2004 won the Arkansas Derby before taking the Run for the Roses and Preakness Stakes. The following year Afleet Alex captured the Arkansas Derby and the Preakness and Belmont Stakes and in 2007 Curlin won the race and Preakness Stakes.

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