Circle Unbroken Takes Bashford Manor, Gives Simms Rare Sweep of Churchill Downs' 2-Year-Old Stakes

Jul 01, 2012 Darren Rogers

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, June 30, 2012) – Travis Morgeson V LLC’s Circle Unbroken edged clear of Special Jo in deep stretch and held off a late run by Positively to win Saturday night’s 111th running of the Grade III, $109,800 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs by one length.

The victory gave veteran trainer Garry Simms, who has battled multiple myeloma for more than two years, a rare sweep of Churchill Downs’ graded stakes races for 2-year-olds. A week ago, he saddled Blueeyesintherein to victory in the Grade III Debutante for 2-year-old fillies. He became only the fifth trainer in the track’s storied history to accomplish the feat in a single a year.

Circle Unbroken ran six furlongs over a fast track in 1:11.71 under Jon Court.

The dark bay or brown son of Broken Vow out of the Doneraille Court mare Baldomera broke from post 2 in the field of eight juveniles and relaxed nicely from the inside behind pacesetters Praetorian Prefect and Special Jo. As the leaders ran the first quarter mile in :22.10 and the half in :46.02, Court patiently waited for an opening to develop around the turn as Hightail joined the fray from the outside. Praetorian Prefect tired and dropped out of contention with three-sixteenths of a mile to run and Court dropped his hands to let Circle Unbroken free for a clear run. He edged clear of Special Jo late under left handed urging and held Positively at bay, who charged from the outside after being squeezed at the start. 

Circle Unbroken – named for Simms’ close knit friends who’ve been a supportive system during his multiple myeloma fight – paid $6.80, $3.80 and $2.80 as the slight 2-1 favorite. Positively, with Calvin Borel in the saddle, returned $5.60 and $3.40. Special Jo, under Kent Desormeaux, was another 1 ¼ lengths back in third and paid $2.80.

Hightail finished another length behind in fourth and his rider, Ramon Vazquez, lodged a claim of foul against the winner and runner-up, but Kentucky Horse Racing Commission stewards reviewed video and made no change to the order of finish. The field was rounded out by Good Tickled, Roman’s Avenue, Praetorian Prefect and Go Jack Go.

Bred in Florida by Brylynn Farm Inc., Circle Unbroken earned $66,034 for the win and remained unbeaten in two starts. He entered the Bashford Manor off an impressive 1 ¼-length maiden victory on June 17 at Churchill Downs in his career debut. The colt was purchased at last year’s Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $92,000 – a relatively expensive purchase for Simms, who is known to look for bargains at sales – and has now banked $94,534.

“It’s the second most I’ve ever paid for a horse,” Simms said earlier this week. “I just loved the horse. I usually look for bargains, but there was just something about this horse. He’s almost a perfect specimen, as far as conformation goes. He has a few little flaws, but not many. He had the perfect eye, attitude, walk…he had everything I like in a horse. I was going to get him and I probably would have paid more than I did.”

First run in 1902, the Bashford Manor – the first open graded stakes race of the year for 2-year-olds – is one of Churchill Downs’ most storied races. It is named for the former Louisville Thoroughbred breeding and racing farm that dominated the American racing scene in the early 1900s. George J. Long, a wealthy foundry owner, purchased Bashford Manor Farm in 1887 and developed his Thoroughbred operation that provided him two Derby wins as an owner, 1892 (Azra) and 1906 (Sir Huon), and three as a breeder, 1892 (Azra), 1899 (Manuel) and 1906 (Sir Huon). In addition, Bashford Manor also won the Kentucky Oaks in 1894 (Selika) and 1915 (Kathleen). The original Wilder family owned Bashford Manor. The Wilders were direct descendants of Lord Baltimore, whose English home was also called Bashford Manor. Long died in 1930 and the farm was eventually sold in 1973 to make way for the development of a mall complex, fittingly named Bashford Manor, that formally closed in 2003.

Earlier on the 11-race program, Salty Strike won the $73,704 Roxelana, an overnight stakes for fillies and mares. The 4-year-old daughter of Smart Strike clocked seven furlongs in 1:23.50 under leading rider Corey Lanerie to beat 4-5 favorite Sassy Image by 3 ½ lengths. Owned by Craig Singer and trained by Ken McPeek, Salty Strike, who paid $8.20 to win as the 3-1 second choice, banked $44,820 and improved her record to 15-6-1-1—$307,060. Five of her six wins have come in seven starts at Churchill Downs.

Racing at Churchill Downs continues Sunday with a 10-race program that begins at 6:30 p.m. ET. Sunday is closing day of the 38-day Spring Meet and the featured event is the Grade II, $150,000-added Firecracker Handicap, a one-mile test over the Matt Winn Turf Course for 3-year-olds and up. The Firecracker, headed by Breeders’ Cup Mile (GI) runner-up Turallure, goes as Race 7 at 9:30 p.m. ET. There will be mandatory payoffs in the Pick 6 (Races 5-10) and the Super Hi-5 (Races 4 and 10).


Garry Simms, trainer of Circle Unbroken, winner: “All I’ve really got to say is that I’ve been very blessed. Once again, it’s all about my owners and my family and God. This horse, Circle Unbroken, is named for the circle of people I had around me that have supported me the last couple of years during my roughest times.

“It was a big step forward today. I had total confidence in the horse. Everyone was asking me about coming back in 13 days and this and that. But good racehorses find a way to win. There is a proverb that says ‘You can prepare your horse for battle, but victory belongs to the Lord.’”

On the rare Debutante–Bashford Manor double: “Well, this is about as good as it gets. I guess the only thing better would be if these two come back in the spring and win the Oaks and the Derby. It’s a great victory and I’m very happy for my connections.”

On the objection: “You never like an objection. I didn’t see anything and (jockey) Jon (Court) told me nothing happened. But you never like to walk out there thinking you’ve won and then see an objection.”

Q: What’s next?: “Right now we’re just going to celebrate. We’re not in any hurry.”

Jon Court, jockey on Circle Unbroken, winner: “It felt really good to get the win. This has been a tough meet and I’ve spent a lot of time chasing around Corey (Lanerie, leading rider) and (jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan). It’s a nice way to end the meet, but I still have the Firecracker (GII) tomorrow and I believe I’ve got a very good shot with Phil Oliver’s horse (Seruni). I tasted victory there last year (aboard Wise Dan). So hopefully I can get one more (stakes win) before the meet ends.”

On the objection: “In my opinion, it was a frivolous claim of foul. That’s just my opinion, though. I was following Kent (Desormeaux on Special Jo) through the hole and then when he dropped in, I took his path. (Hightail) actually came over on me then. I guess Ramon (Vazquez) was trying to push me behind Kent, but I was loaded and I held my ground and kept a straight path and got up to win. I think in a race of that caliber a rider will occasionally take a shot (by claiming foul) to show his clients that he’s trying to get the best placing possible.”

On picking up the mount with Leandro Goncalves riding in stakes races at Charles Town: “I worked him the other day (Wednesday) and I was impressed with him that day and I was impressed with him today. I used the extra time before the races today and went back to watch his maiden race several times and learn as much about him as I could. It paid off, handsomely.”

Pat Byrne, trainer of Positively, second: “He’s a nice colt. He’s going to improve off of this and I think the horse that beat us (Circle Unbroken) could be a serious racehorse. He was the fastest horse going in and this was a tough group – it was a tough Bashford Manor. We’re ecstatic. Anytime you get beat by a good horse it’s never a big deal. We’re just happy he showed up. He’s got an incredible pedigree and now he’s been second in a Grade III, so it’s all good. He finished and galloped out good. We’ve run three times here, so I plan to give him a little break and maybe point for the race in Chicago (the Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park).

Calvin Borel, jockey on Positively, second: “It was a big effort. He lost a little ground when they kind of piled up around the turn a little bit, but he broke sharp and turned-off, just like I like and he ran a big race.”

Kent Desormeaux, jockey on Special Jo, third: “He’s a bit excitable, but with maturity he’ll get 10 lengths faster. He was a little overzealous. Time was irrelevant. It was just his excitability, so he’ll learn to breathe from racing and maturity and he’ll be faster.”


Ken McPeek, trainer of Salty Strike, winner: “She loves this racetrack and always has. She ran lights out today and I give a lot of credit to my whole staff here. I’m not sure what we’ll do with her next.”

Dale Romans, trainer of Sassy Image, second as 4-5 favorite: “She’s just been a little slow coming around this year. We’re trying to focus on having her peak in November and hopefully she can bounce back to her old form. This was a step forward from the race on Derby Day (a sixth-place run in the Grade I Humana Distaff) and hopefully it’s a step forward and she’ll come back around. There’s nothing wrong with her. She’s good and sound. She had her surgery last year (for a hind ankle chip) and she’s come back well from that. She just doesn’t seem as sharp as she was last year.”

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