Turfway Park takes center stage in Kentucky before handing off the baton to Keeneland Race Course in a matter of weeks. The headliner will be the G.III $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes. Inaugurated on April 1, 1972 as the Spiral Stakes, horses ran in order to “spiral up” to the Bluegrass Stakes and on to the Kentucky Derby. The race has gone through several face lifts in distance and name; it was once the Jim Beam Stakes, the GalleryFurniture.com Stakes, and the Lane’s End Stakes. Despite the many name changes, the race has become a staple on the road to the derby and figures to include a strong field with derby hopes looming on the horizon.
Winners of the last four runnings of the Spiral Stakes have gone on to compete in the Kentucky Derby. However, Hard Spun (2007) was the only horse to hit the board finishing second behind Street Sense. In fact, the Spiral Stakes has only produced one Kentucky Derby winner, Lil E. Tee in 1992. This was hall of fame jockey Pat Day’s only derby victory as well. At 1 1/8 miles (9 furlongs), this will be the 40th running and the 6th over Turfway’s polytrack. With a hefty purse on the line, it’s simple: win and you’re in.
$500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III, Race 10, 5:31 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Preachintothedevil (NY), J Alvarado, G C Contessa, 15/1
2. Positive Response (FL), J Couton, W E Morey, 3/1
3. Thirtyfirststreet (CA), K Carmouche, D F O’Neill, 12/1
4. Animal Kingdom (KY), A Garcia, H G Motion, 5/1
5. Son of Posse (KY), R Mojica Jr., R Vitiello, 50/1
6. Rescind the Trade (FL), J Valdivia Jr., R A Violette Jr., 12/1
7. Beachcombing (KY), L R Goncalves, C C Brown, 12/1
8. King Congie (KY), J Castellano, T Albertrani, 4/1
9. Taptowne (KY), R A Prescott, W D Mogge, 20/1
10. Decisive Moment (FL), K D Clark, J D Arias, 5/1
11. Twinspired (KY), V Lebron, M J Maker, 10/1
12. Glint (KY), G Saez, K Gorder, 10/1
All carry 121 pounds.
As said, the race boasts a strong field, but on paper the talent is unproven. Thirtyfirststreet and Decisive Moment are the only two to compete in grade II races previously and they didn’t hit the board. Positive Response is looking to extend his Turfway win streak to 2 and continue his dominance on all weather surfaces with a win on Saturday. Trainer Mike Maker is also attempting to win his 2nd consecutive Spiral Stakes and his 3rd overall with Twinspired. So, there is plenty of excitement headed into the race, but it figures to be a handicapper’s nightmare.
The race can be won from the start. Positive Response may run an exact copy of his performance in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes if he breaks well and is untested. However, I expect Decisive Moment to make a move early on to test Positive Response on the front end. One or both may extend the lead and battle it out in a thrilling stretch finish or it may set up for a closer to enter the picture and upset the two runners. The latter seems to be a more legitimate option. Look for Twinspired to return to form and catapult his name into the derby picture.
11 to win. Tri Box – 11, 2, 4
Also on the undercard at Turfway is the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes. This is an ungraded race, but could prove to be a potential stepping stone to the Preakness or Belmont Stakes. Team Valor enters Crimson China, stablemate to Spiral starter Animal Kingdom and brings in Alan Garcia to ride. All nine starters are looking for their first stakes win.
$100,000 Rushaway Stakes (Race 9, 5:02 p.m.), 3-Year-Olds, 1 1/16 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Grandpa Gibby (KY), J Lopez, 116, C W Rosin
2. Crimson China (KY), A Garcia, 118, H G Motion
3. St. Ivan (KY), V Lebron, 118, M J Maker
4. Disfraz (KY), K Carmouche, 116, E Kenneally
5. Ocasta (KY), F Lenclud, 116, D Miller
6. Swift Warrior (KY), J Castellano, 116, J P Terranova, II
7. The Ole Gen (KY), G Saez, 118, J L Jones
8. Sorgho (KY), E Martin Jr., 116, W D Bennett
9. Swagger Jack (VA), L R Goncalves, 116, D Miller
Blinkers On: Grandpa Gibby
Good luck to all connections this weekend. Turfway will not be running under the lights, but the stars are sure to shine in the Blue Grass State. Kentucky racing is in full swing with 43 days to the Kentucky Derby. We look forward to a great weekend of racing.
Written by Big Brink