Local hope Request for Parole, winner of last month's John Battaglia Memorial Stakes and two-for-two over the local surface, drew post two and was installed the 8-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday's Lane's End Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park.
Trained by Steve Margolis, Request for Parole will face seven rivals in the $500,000 race to be run at 1 1/8-miles.National coverage of the race will take place on ESPN2 on a tape-delayed broadcast from 6:30-7:30 p.m. EST. The Spiral will be run for the 31st time on Saturday, and for the first time with new sponsor, Lane's End Farm.
Pat Day, a five-time winner of the Spiral Stakes, will be aboard the favorite for the first time. In his two wins at Turfway this winter, Sam and Jeri Knighton's runner won the WEBN Frog and Battaglia Stakes under rider Brian Peck. Last year, the son of Judge T C finished second to last week's Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Harlan's Holiday in the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes at River Downs.
"I'm confident," Margolis said after drawing post two. "Pat and I will sit down and set a game plan. I would have liked the five hole, but this horse has won on the inside and the outside. He trained well this morning and ate up.
"A win in this race would give us a legitimate reason to go to the Kentucky Derby," he said. "The owners have said that if the colt runs big, they'd like to take a shot. But we have to take it one race at a time. The horse is doing fine, he's a horse that goes out there and tries all the time."
Saratoga Blues, undefeated in three starts in Maryland and New York, was made the second choice on the morning line at 5-2 by track oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. The son of Twining, trained by Tony Dutrow for the Saratoga Friends Stable, will break from post five. Mario Pino, a Maryland journeyman, has the mount.
Third choice in the Spiral should belong to Perfect Drift, who has finished second to Request for Parole in his last two starts. The Stonecrest Farm homebred won the Turfway Prevue Stakes on Jan. 5 before mixing it up with Request for Parole. Trained by Murray Johnson, the gelded Perfect Drift will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye and will break from post eight. In the Battaglia, Perfect Drift cut the corner on the turn, gaining the advantage on his rival, but was run down in the lane, losing by a nose.
"When he got passed, he responded," said Margolis of Request for Parole. "He wasn't done by any means. He's determined...there's something about him."
Also facing the starter in the Spiral will be Marylou Whitney Stable's Straight Gin, an allowance winner at Gulfstream Park in his last start for trainer Nick Zito. Zito will be sending out a starter in his sixth Spiral in a row. The strapping son of Go for Gin will break from post seven under Jorge Chavez. He has been pegged at 6-1 on the morning line.
Azillion, who will be ridden by Mike Smith and break from post 4, is 8-1. The other Spiral starters are: West Point Thoroughbred's My Man Ryan (post six, Mike Luzzi, 15-1), Overbrook Farm's Gold Dollar (post three, Shaun Bridgmohan, 20-1), and Sandi Kleeman's Benny the Hawk (post one, Brian Peck, 30-1).