Michael Tabor's Buckle Down Ben, winless in two starts this year but winner of last year's Laurel Futurity (gr. III), was installed the 5-2 morning line favorite after drawing post 8 for Saturday's $600,000 Spiral Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park. While there is no standout, a well-balanced field of nine 3-year-olds were entered for the 1 1/8-mile race that will be telecast live on ESPN from 4-5 p.m. EST. Post time is scheduled for 4:40.
The field of nine for the 30th renewal of the Spiral features three stakes winners, two of them graded. However, none of the entrants has won an added-money event in 2001.
Buckle Down Ben will be making his first start under the care of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas after taking over the training duties from Steve Klesaris. He finished a disappointing fifth in last month's Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park. Prior to that effort, he was second, beaten a head, in Gulfstream's Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III). John Velazquez has the call aboard the son of Devil His Due.
Track handicapper and announcer Mike Battaglia made Meetyouathebrig the 3-1 second choice. A winner of last year's Iroquois Stakes (gr. III) on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Churchill Downs, Meetyouathebrig was eighth in his lone start of 2001, the Fountain of Youth. Meetyouathebrig, a son of Out of Place who will break from post 9, is trained by Elliott Walden, also the trainer of Spiral hopeful Camden Park.
Owned by Mark Stanley, Camden Park has made only three lifetime starts and his lone career victory came on the turf at Fair Grounds back on Jan. 22. In his lone start against winners, Camden Park was third, beaten 6 * lengths, in a 1 1/16 mile allowance race at Gulfstream Park. The morning line price on Camden Park, a son of A.P. Indy, is 15-1. He drew post 7.
The field will also include Clutch Player, Gary and Mary West's Mongoose, Henry E. Pabst's Keats, and Balto Star. Clutch Player, who broke his maiden at Turfway Park last September, was most recently sixth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds on March 11. The son of A.P. Indy owned by Thomas Vanderhyde and trained by Dallas Stewart will break from post 3.
The third choice at 7-2, Mongoose was scratched from last week's Tampa Bay Derby after his foal papers didn't make it to the racing office. The Bill Mott trainee will break from post 6. Keats, an allowance winner at Gulfstream in his last start, was made the 5-1 fourth choice and will break from post 2.
Balto Star, owned by Anita and Stuart Subotnick's Anstu Stables, is listed at 6-1 and will break from post 4. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Glitterman, won his latest effort at Aqueduct by 12 * lengths.
Local runners Fan Club's Mister and Halo's Stride, both listed at 30-1, complete the field.
The Spiral Stakes (gr. II), $600,000, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles
Post Horse Jockey Morning Line
1. Fan Club's Mister Robbie Davis 30-1
2. Keats Larry Melancon 5-1
3. Clutch Player Pat Day 8-1
4. Balto Star Mark Guidry 6-1
5. Halo's Stride Jon Court 30-1
6. Mongoose Victor Espinoza 7-2
7. Camden Park Alex Solis 15-1
8. Buckle Down Ben John Velazquez 5-2
9. Meetyouathebrig Edgar Prado 3-1