Circle Of Trust Scores 1st Stakes in Honeymoon 

June 1, 2024

Circle Of Trust. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Santa Anita Press Box

ARCADIA, Calif.— After a troubled third in the GIII Providencia last time out, Circle of Trust earned her first stakes win in Saturday’s GIII, $100,000 Honeymoon Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita.

Circle of Trust (3-1) and Antonio Fresu saved ground in mid-pack before angling out for racing room on the second turn and then surging past the field in the stretch to win by 1 ¼ lengths. Sakura Blossom (28-1), the longest shot in the field, rallied from last to be second by 1 ¾ lengths over 2-1 favorite Faith Understood in third. 

Circle of Trust is trained by Phil D’Amato. She won in a final time of 1:48.40. Fractions for the race were 23.21, 47.04, 1:11.50 and 1:36.27.

For Fresu, this was his fourth stakes win at the Hollywood Meet to lead all jockeys.

“This was my first time riding her, so I just tried to follow the instructions that Phil gave me,” Fresu said. “She relaxed pretty well behind the speed. She is just steady and one paced, so at the three-eighths, I started to put her on the outside to give her a clear run, and she responded so well. I think she is an improving filly. Maybe last time she was a little unlucky, but you know today, I think she moved a step forward. I think she won impressively.”

Circle of Trust paid $8.20, $4.40 and $3.40. Sakura Blossom, ridden by Hector Berrios for trainer Leonard Powell, returned $20.20 and $7.60. Faith Understood, with Mike Smith up for trainer Jonathan Thomas, paid $3.60.

In the Providencia last out, when ridden by Kazushi Kimura, Circle of Trust had to check shortly after the start. He then tracked the leaders before making a late surge to be beaten just three-quarters of a length by well-regarded Medoro.

Splitting Circle of Trust and Medoro in second that day was Shiloh’s Mistress, who also returned in the Honeymoon and finished last.

By Union Rags, Circle of Trust is now 7: 2-0-1 with $119,560 in earnings for owner Jim Downey.

“She is just getting better from race to race, which I like to see,” D’Amato said. “She is a big, scopey filly and she is still growing into herself.”

“It has all been by trial and error, trying to find her style and I think that was the most important part. Flavien did a great job of breaking her maiden (Mar. 15) and once he did that the light bulb really kicked on and we have just kind of followed along the way. She likes that long, prolonged run, getting her to the outside. All three jocks between Flavien, Kazushi and Antonio just said, ‘She’ll run all day,”D’Amato added.

Live racing resumes Sunday with an eight-race card starting at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.

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