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For the third consecutive year, a Bob Baffert trained horse has won the Grade II Rebel Stakes. Secret Circle was this year’s winner, holding off Optimizer to take the Arkansas Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park on a beautiful day that saw over 31,000 fans crowd into the track.

Secret Circle stayed behind the early pace, as far back as fourth at the far turn, as Scatman and Unbridled’s Note battled out front. Scatman took the lead near the mile mark and Secret Circle began his surge. Down the stretch it looked as though Scatman was going to be able to hold off the challenge, but Secret Circle kept plowing forward to take the lead and hold off a charging Optimizer, who was ridden by Jon Court. Secret Circle ran the mile and 1/16 race in 1:44.5, winning by about ¾ length.

Secret Circle, jockeyed by Rafael Bejarano, has won five of his six career starts, including two graded stakes victories. The Arkansas Derby is likely the next stop for this talented thoroughbred, with an eye on Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.

In other racing news;

Just under a month ago, at Gulfstream Park, jockey Javier Castellano celebrated winning his 3,000 career race. He’s right back in the news in March, as he broke the Gulfstream meet record by winning his 98th race of the season. He had previously been tied with Jerry Bailey, Wigberto Ramos, and Julio Pezua, and seven of his 98 wins have come in stakes races. Castellano, who is widely recognized as one of racing’s top jockeys, had this to say after setting the new record; “It’s a great day in my life, I’ve been doing so well lately. I’ve been so lucky. But I’ve had a lot of help from all the owners and trainers and my agent, Matt Muzikar. It’s been a great meeting. I won my 3000th race and I’ve been riding a lot of good horses. I’m looking forward to my next goal, the Kentucky Derby. Hopefully, I can win it.” With 98 victories already under his belt, 2012 is looking like it will be a tremendous year for Castellano.