Officials at Turfway Park reported March 21 that as many as 18 runners are being pointed toward the March 26 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (gr. III).
Preference to run in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds with $500,000 in graded stakes earnings is determined first by graded stakes wins, then by stakes wins, and then by career earnings. Entries will be drawn Wednesday, March 23, during a cocktail reception in the Maker’s Mark VIP Tent at Turfway, from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
In order of preference, hopefuls for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes to date are:
1. Decisive Moment, Juan Arias
2. Positive Response, William Morey
3. Thirtyfirststreet, Doug O’Neill
4. King Congie, Tom Albertrani
5. Glint, Kellyn Gorder
6. Preachintothedevil, Gary Contessa
7. Twinspired, Michael Maker
8. Rescind the Trade, Rick Violette
9. Animal Kingdom, H. Graham Motion
10. Beachcombing, Chad Brown
11. Son of Posse, Rhiannan Vitiello
12. Taptowne, Wayne Mogge
13. Ocasta, Darrin Miller
14. Quiet Assault, D. Wayne Lukas
15. Crimson China, H. Graham Motion
16. Swagger Jack, Darrin Miller
17. Sorgho, Don Bennett
18. Smarter Than Ever, Clark Hanna
The Rushaway, a listed stakes for 3-year-olds going 1 1/16 miles on the Spiral Stakes undercard, is also second choice for Ocasta, Swagger Jack, and Sorgho.
The preference procedure for the race presents an interesting dilemma for trainer Graham Motion, who will have one starter each in the Spiral and Rushaway.
“Our original idea was to run Crimson China in the Spiral and Animal Kingdom in the Rushaway,” said Motion in a release. "But those plans may have to flip; Crimson China is currently 15th in the career earnings metric used for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes for horses that haven’t won stakes events.
“My original plan had nothing to do with ability,” said Motion, who won Turfway’s signature race with Adriano in 2008. “We feel that Crimson China is just a little more seasoned and ready to jump up against these kinds of horses. They’re both very much on a par, though. I think we’ll just have to let the cards fall as they do.”
Crimson China and Animal Kingdom, both owned by Team Valor International, worked five furlongs together around the dogs on the Palm Meadows turf course March 21 in 1:03.80, best of nine at that distance.
“They went super,” Motion said. “They’ll be vanning to Keeneland at 3 p.m. today (March 21) and van over to Turfway the morning of the race.”
Trainer Billy Morey flew Positive Response from California to Turfway on March 1, half a week before he obliterated the field in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes. The 3-year-old gelding already has two stakes wins, the Gold Rush and the California Derby. In his last start before the Battaglia, he was third, beaten just two lengths, in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III). All of his eight career starts—five wins, two thirds—have come over the all-weather surfaces at Woodbine, Golden Gate, and Turfway. Positive Response is owned by Saul Gevertz, Roger Newman, Ray Pagano, and Morey.
Battaglia Memorial runner-up Taptowne, trained by Turfway-based Wayne Mogge, breezed four furlongs in :49 flat March 19 in preparation for the Spiral. “The colt’s doing awesome,” Mogge said in a statement. “The work was just maintenance. We’re coming back off three weeks (since the Battaglia), so he’s already fit. We’re happy with his progress. He’s gotten better every start, gaining experience. He’s in good shape and at this point we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that he stays that way.”
One Spiral hopeful, Glint, arrived at Keeneland from Oaklawn early March 21 after trainer Kellyn Gorder decided to skip the March 19 Rebel Stakes (gr. III). “We thought about the Rebel but then drew the 11 hole and it was a big field, and deep, so we decided to scratch and come to Kentucky,” said Gorder. “He already has a stakes win on synthetic (the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile at Presque Isle Downs). We haven’t stretched him out yet but we’re excited to see him go two turns. He’s training really well—had a nice breeze on Sunday (five furlongs at Oaklawn in 1:01.60, 16th of 35 at the distance).”
Owned by TK Stables, Glint was third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in his most recent race, the Mountain Valley Stakes at Oaklawn March 5, his first start since the Presque Isle stakes win in September.
In addition to the Rushaway, the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes is also supported by the Bourbonette Oaks (gr. III) for three-year-old fillies, a prep for the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I); the Hansel, a sprint for 3-year-olds; and the Queen, a sprint for older fillies and mares.