$500,000 Spiral Stakes Is This Weekend’s Key Derby Prep

Turfway Park hosts the biggest Derby prep race this coming weekend — the Grade 3, $500,000 Spiral Stakes on Saturday, March 25th. It is Race 10 of their huge 12 race card, features a  wide open field of 12, and goes to post at 5:55 PM. Bet the action at the two new Off Track Betting Centers in Richmond — at Breakers Sports Grille (9127 W. Broad Street) and at Ponies Pints (110 N. 18th St.). The OTBs will also simulcast the $800,000 Sunland Derby (Gr. 3) on Sunday. And don’t forget to come early on Saturday — the OTBs will simulcast the $10 million Dubai World Cup at 12:45 PM. Can’t get to Richmond? Virginia residents can bet on line via TVG.com, XPressBet.com, TwinSpires.com and NYRABets.com

Kitten’s  Cat, a two-time stakes winner on turf, will try Polytrack for the first time in the $500,000 JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3) March 25 at Turfway Park.

The 1 1/8-mile Spiral carries 85 qualifying points for the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, with a 50-20-10-5 distribution to the top four finishers.

Mike Battaglia installed Ken and Sarah Ramsey homebred Kitten’s Cat as the 4-1 morning-line favorite for the Spiral, where he will start from post 8. The Kitten’s Joy   colt enters off a runner-up finish in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3T) March 4 at Gulfstream Park for trainer Joe Sharp, after winning the Kitten’s Joy Stakes at Gulfstream in February and taking last year’s Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes on Breeders’ Cup weekend at Santa Anita Park.

“His best races have been when he’s been outside,” Sharp said. “He’s gotten more mature and more confident with every race, so I think he would run well from anywhere, but we think he’s a little better drawing outside. If I had been able to pick a post I’d have picked the 8, so we’re very happy with it. And being the favorite in a $500,000 race never feels bad.”

Kittens Cat is early favorite in a wide open field of 12 Saturday at Turfway Park. Photo by Adam Coglianese.
Kittens Cat is early favorite in a wide open field of 12 Saturday at Turfway Park. Photo by Adam Coglianese.

The Ramseys captured the Spiral for the third time last year with Oscar Nominated. His victory followed their Spiral wins with We Miss Artie   in 2014 and Dean’s Kitten in 2010. Luis Saez will make the trip from South Florida to retain the mount on Kitten’s Cat.

LAMARRA: Oscar Nominated Takes Spiral for Ramseys

Also attempting to transfer his winning form from turf to Polytrack is Brad Anderson’s Parlor, who earned a stakes placing last year at Kentucky Downs. A son of Lonhro (AUS), Parlor won his mid-August debut at Ellis Park before closing with a rush to finish second by a nose in the Sept. 3 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Stakes.

While Parlor was preparing for the Dixiana Bourbon Stakes (G3T) in October at Keeneland, a bone chip was discovered in his right hind ankle. The Eddie Kenneally trainee had the chip removed in surgery and was rested for the remainder of the year. Parlor announced his return to form with a clear victory in an allowance/optional claiming race Feb. 22 on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs.

“The timing of the race and the surface—it seems like this will be a good spot for him,” Anderson said, noting Parlor also has worked well on dirt. “I just think this is the smart spot for him.”

Trainer Mike Maker, who picked up his third Spiral win last year with Oscar Nominated, has entered three in this year’s edition: Kendall Hansen’s Fast and Accurate, Three Diamonds Farm’s Shiraz, and Kendall Hansen and Bode Miller’s En Hanse.

Fast and Accurate enters off a front-running stakes win on the Gulstream turf Feb. 20, Shiraz is grade 3-placed, and En Hanse, who drew the outside post in the field of 12, enters off a runner-up finish in the John Battaglia Stakes March 4 at Turfway.

Also going for his fourth Spiral victory is trainer Graham Motion, who saddled Animal Kingdom   to victory in the 2011 Spiral as his final prep before winning the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1). This year Motion will saddle Flaxman Holdings’ homebred Soglio. A son of Scat Daddy, Soglio has raced exclusively on turf, earning a stakes-placing last year at Santa Anita.

Wachtel Stable and Gary Barber’s King and His Court boasts two stakes wins and grade 3-placing on Polytrack last year at Woodbine. Trainer Mark Casse will look for the son of Court Vision   to bounce back from an off-the-board finish in his first dirt race, the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) Feb. 11 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Multiple Eclipse Award winner Todd Pletcher has entered Mathis Stable’s Bronson, who won his debut in June at Monmouth Park and enters off a clear allowance/optional claiming race victory in an off-the-turf race Jan. 29 at Gulfstream.

Colonel Samsen, a stakes winner on the synthetic surface at Golden Gate Fields, will try to improve on his last-out fifth-place finish there in the El Camino Real Derby (G3). Colonel Samsen, a son of Colonel John, is campaigned by Casner Racing, Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, and Corey S. Johnsen.

Turfway officials were upbeat during the March 22 draw at JACK Cincinnati Casino as Saturday’s weather forecast calls for temperatures in the low 70s. Battaglia sees this year’s race as a deep field that could see a number of horses jump up with a big effort.

“We’ve had just so many great horses come out of this race,” Battaglia said. “And we have a great race again this year. … This is one of the most well-matched fields for the Spiral I’ve ever seen.”

Points to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) field also will be on the line Saturday at Turfway, where a field of 12 3-year-old fillies are scheduled to try the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3).

Stonestreet Stables and Fog City Stables’ Delphinia will try for a third straight win in the one-mile Bourbonette after securing the first stakes win of her career when she drew off to a seven-length score in the 6 1/2-furlong Cincinnati Trophy Stakes Feb. 4 at Turfway.

Trained by Wesley Ward, Delphinia, by The Factor  , will stretch out to two turns for the first time in the Bourbonette.

Jack Cincinnati Casino Spiral S. (G3)

Turfway Park, Saturday, March 25, 2017, Race 10
  • 1 1/8m
  • All Weather Track
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:55 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Blueridge Traveler (KY) Channing Hill 123 Kenneth G. McPeek 15/1
2 2Soglio (KY) Trevor McCarthy 123 H. Graham Motion 6/1
3 3Fast and Accurate (PA) Tyler Gaffalione 123 Michael J. Maker 15/1
4 4Convict Pike (KY) Angel Cruz 123 George R. Arnold, II 8/1
5 5Colonel Samsen (KY) Jose Lezcano 123 Eoin G. Harty 12/1
6 6Giant Payday (KY) Chris Landeros 123 Ian R. Wilkes 8/1
7 7Shiraz (NY) Rafael Manuel Hernandez 123 Michael J. Maker 15/1
8 8Kitten’s Cat (KY) Luis Saez 123 Joe Sharp 4/1
9 9Parlor (KY) Jesus Lopez Castanon 123 Eddie Kenneally 5/1
10 10Bronson (KY) Manuel Franco 123 Todd A. Pletcher 10/1
11 11King and His Court (ON) Gary Boulanger 123 Mark E. Casse 5/1
12 12En Hanse (KY) Robby Albarado 123 Michael J. Maker 15/1