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Dec 26, 2014

Seeking the Sherif steps up versus Secret Circle in Midnight Lute


Arcadia, CA ( - Secret Circle and Seeking the Sherif have been made the overwhelming favorites versus five other sprinters in Saturday's $100,000 Midnight Lute Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.

Secret Circle, trained by Bob Baffert, is the 4-5 morning line favorite with Seeking the Sherif the 5-2 second choice for the Midnight Lute, formerly the Vernon O. Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park.

Martin Garcia once again has the riding assignment aboard Secret Circle with the pair starting from post 6. Seeking the Sherif will be ridden by Edwin Maldonado from post 5 in the seven-horse field.

Secret Circle, owned by Karl Watson, Paul Weitman and Mike Pegram, failed to successfully defend his crown in November's Breeders' Cup Sprint at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old was second, a half-length behind Work All Week in the six-furlong championship.

Four weeks ago, with Joel Rosario riding, Secret Circle was the 5-2 favorite in the Cigar Mile at Aqueduct, but again finished second, beaten five lengths by Private Zone.

Secret Circle, winless in 2014, has three seconds and a third from four starts but has overall career earnings of $2,424,790 with seven wins, five seconds and a third from 13 starts.

Trainer Ron Ellis will saddle Seeking the Sherif for the Midnight Lute and owners Tim Goodwin, Steven Zolotas and Sabina Romo-Zolotas.

"He's a hard-trying horse and he's doing great. I just don't know if he's as good as Secret Circle," Ellis indicated.

Seeking the Sherif will be making his first start since finishing 11th in the Breeders' Cup Sprint as a 43-1 longshot. However, the 5-year-old has won five of nine starts in 2014 for $222,700. He comes into Saturday's race with seven wins in 12 lifetime starts for $244,100.

"Breaking from the rail in the Breeders' Cup was a tough thing to overcome but it was a tough race," Ellis said. "The horse is probably not quite that good, but he doesn't owe us anything after being claimed for $12,500."

Here is the complete field in post position order for the Midnight Lute: Heir of Storm, Gary Stevens, 15-1; Bahamian Squall, Corey Nakatani, 8-1; Bolita Boyz, Rafael Bejarano, 8-1; Appealing Tale, Victor Espinoza, 20-1; Seeking the Sherif, Edwin Maldonado, 5-2; Secret Circle, Martin Garcia, 4-5 and Distinctiv Passion, Mike Smith, 4-1.

Post time for the Midnight Lute Stakes will be approximately 5:30 p.m. ET.

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