Road to Derby: Dozen Hit Poly in Spiral at Turfway Park

A dozen go in the gate in Saturday's $550,000 Spiral with 85 Derby points up for grabs (photo credit: Turfway Park).

The Road to the Kentucky Derby makes a stop at Turfway Park on Saturday for the $550,000 Spiral Stakes (G3), and while the road is paved with poly, the race could still produce a couple of contenders for the Run for the Roses.

A field of 12 will line up to go 1 1/8 miles over the polytrack surface at the Florence, Kentucky racetrack, with 85 Derby points up for grabs including 50 to the winner, virtually assuring the victor a starting spot in the gate for the Kentucky Derby, which is now just 42 days away.

While the race is no longer considered a major Derby prep since Turfway Park switched to the synthetic surface, we did see 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom use the race as a prep. In addition, Hard Spun used the Spiral on his way to running second in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Preakness and fourth in the Belmont Stakes in 2007.

Last year’s Spiral winner was Black Onyx, who was scratched out of the Kentucky Derby the day before with a left ankle injury.

The morning line favorite this year is the Jerry Hollendorfer trained Tamarando, who makes his 11th career start in the Spiral. The colt won the El Camino Real (G3) at Golden Gate Fields, one of four wins on synthetic surfaces.

The supporting feature on the Saturday card at Turfway Park is the $125,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3), which drew a dozen three-year-old fillies who will go one mile on the main track. The Todd Pletcher trained Sloane Square is the 3-1 morning line favorite and is making her stakes debut.

Let’s head out to Turfway Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

Turfway Park Race 11 The Spiral (G3) Post time 6:28 ET

9 Almost Famous   6-1

5 Coastline   8-1

4 Tamarando   3-1

3 Poker Player   5-1

Almost Famous tries polytrack for the first time today after getting outrun in an 11th place finish in the Fountain of Youth (G2) last out at Gulfstream Park. The colt had to steady soon after the break and never got untracked in that outing. Two back in the Holy Bull (G2) off a 2 ½ month break the colt dueled for the early lead, took over the lead on the far turn and weakened to finish fourth, beaten seven lengths by the winner Cairo Prince, one of the early Derby betting favorites. Our top pick was beaten just ¾ of a length for third by Intense Holiday, who came back to win the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds in his next start on Feb. 22.

The $500,000 purchase has the pedigree to run well on the fake stuff. He is by Unbridled’s Song out of the multiple stakes winner Wild Gams ($1.1 million) who did some of her best work on synthetic surfaces, winning the 2007 TCA (G3) at Keeneland and the 2008 Presque Isle Masters over Tapeta. The colt is in good hands with the Patrick Byrne barn that knows his way around a good horse, training champions Favorite Trick and Countess Diana in 1997.  Jockey Calvin Borel is sticking with this guy and we should catch a fair price.

Coastline was the beaten favorite in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park two back and then was caught out wide much of the trip last out when fourth in the Southwest (G3), beaten 10 ¾ lengths by the winner Tapiture. The colt has not run back to his efforts as a juvenile which included a win in the Street Sense at Churchill Downs last October over a solid field that produced three next out winners including our top pick.

The Mark Casse trainee broke his maiden over polytrack at Keeneland last fall going seven furlongs in a sharp effort. The colt is out of the stakes winner Culinary ($271,860) who did her best work on dirt. The colt may enjoy the return to polytrack here and should get a better trip than he did last out at Oaklawn Park. Decent value if he goes off near his 8-1 morning line.

Tamarando has won four of his seven starts on synthetic surfaces and is coming off a sharp win in the El Camino Real (G3) at Golden Gate Fields over the Tapeta surface. The colt rallied from last to first with a good late run while five wide. Two back on dirt at Santa Anita he ran second in the state bred California Cup Derby, beaten 5 ½ lengths by California Chrome, who came back to with a huge effort winning the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita on March 8.

The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee is a Grade 1 winner on poly, taking the Del Mar Futurity last summer. The colt is a half to stakes winners Luckarack ($534,635) and U’narack ($194,080). The main knock on this guy is going to be the light price.


WIN: Almost Famous to win at 9-2 or better.

EXACTA: 5,9 / 3,4,5,9

TRIFECTA: 5,9 / 3,4,5,9 / 2,3,4,5,9


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