HONEYMOON H. | PURSE: $150,000 | GRADE 2 | 3-YEAR-OLD FILLIES | 1 1/8 MILES (TURF)
INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- So far, it seems the 3-year-old filly Sarah's Secret can do anything.
She won her first two starts last year, returned after a layoff of nearly seven months to win an optional claimer over six furlongs on turf last month, and then made her first start in a stakes and around two turns in Saturday's $150,000 Honeymoon Handicap at Hollywood Park.
The jump in class could not have gone any smoother. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, Sarah's Secret ($9.80) set a slow pace and won by a half-length over the previously unbeaten Star Billing. Cambina, a three-time stakes winner earlier this year, closed from last in the field of nine 3-year-old fillies to finish a game third.
Sarah's Secret ran 1 1/8 miles on turf in 1:50.04, extending her winning streak to four races. She has earned $177,000 for breeder Joan Hadley and Al and Sandee Kirkwood, who bought a share in the filly last month.
"She's shown us a lot," said winning trainer Kathy Walsh. "It's a tough schedule to ask her to do what she's done."
The race unfolded in a manner that surprised Walsh. She was hoping that Bejarano could have Sarah's Secret behind another runner for the first half of the race.
"We were looking to cover her up in the race but there was no pace," Walsh said. Bejarano "had to use his judgment. He did a good job of rating her."
Sarah's Secret set a modest pace of 24.80 and 50.19 seconds, leading by a head over Star Billing, the winner of the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes last month. Sarah's Secret extended her lead by a length in early stretch but was fully extended to hold of Star Billing, the 9-5 favorite who closed well and held second, finishing a head in front of Cambina.
The first three finishers may return for the $250,000 American Oaks over 1 1/4 miles on turf for 3-year-old fillies on July 16.
Affirmed Handicap: Two turns no problem for Coil
Coil was ready to take the lead on the backstretch of Saturday's $100,000 Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood Park, regardless of what jockey Martin Garcia thought.
Coil was second behind Awesome Patriot and very quickly found himself in front of Awesome Patriot, racing along the rail.
"He took me there," Garcia said of Coil. "I saw the hole and didn't want to fight him."
The move proved decisive. Coil ($3.80) pulled away from Awesome Patriot in early stretch and held off a late threat from Runflatout to win the Grade 3 Affirmed Handicap by a length in his first start around two turns.
The victory left Garcia with the impression that Coil can show more improvement with experience in longer races.
"I wasn't surprised he ran that way," Garcia said. "I thought I'd sit and see what's under me. The pace was slow, and he pulled me."
Coil ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.88. Runflatout finished four lengths clear of Spud Spivens, a 9-1 shot. Akkadian, Awesome Patriot, and Northern Indy completed the order of finish.
Coil, owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman and trained by Bob Baffert, has won 3 of 4 starts and $118,560. The Affirmed was his stakes debut and third consecutive win, preceded by a maiden race in November and an optional claimer over six furlongs here May 6, his 3-year-old debut.
The partnership and Baffert acquired Coil privately last fall from breeder Glen Hill Farm, following a third to Awesome Patriot in a maiden race in October. Coil is by Point Given, the Baffert-trained 3-year-old champion male of 2001.