A full field of 12 is set to compete in the Grade 3 $500,000 Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes this Saturday. The 1 1/8 mile race will be run on the Polytrack at Turfway Park in Florence, Kentucky. A victory would guarantee the winner a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Last year’s edition produced the eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, trained by Graham Motion and owned by Team Valor International. The pair hopes to repeat with a win by Went The Day Well.
Second choice in the field at morning line odds of 4-1, Went The Day Well comes in off a maiden victory nearly two weeks ago at Gulfstream Park where he earned a 93 Brisnet speed figure in the 1 1/16 mile victory. Among the Vinery Racing Spiral contenders, this son of Proud Citizen boasts the highest Brisnet speed rating (92) at the 1 1/8 mile distance; a rating he earned when finishing fourth in his first U.S. start. The colt was previously raced in Great Britain.
Trainer Mark Casse will try blinkers on Stealcase, who finished sixth to Hansen in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. Stealcase comes into the race off a bullet work in which he breezed five furlongs in a minute and change. The addition of blinkers may be what this Lawyer Ron colt needs to get back to the winner’s circle. Jockey Rajiv Maragh will take the mount for the first time.
Handsome Mike is the co-second choice in the field at 4-1. The beaten favorite who finished third in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby in February, will try again to grab the graded stakes earnings he needs to give him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. In four attempts, Handsome Mike has not been able to do better than his second place finish in last November’s Grade 3 Generous Stakes at Hollywood Park. Time is running out for this son of Scat Daddy.
An early Derby prep wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of a lightly-raced maiden winner. The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes won’t disappoint as trainer Todd Pletcher sends out Heavy Breathing. Installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite, this son of Giant’s Causeway is two-for-two in as many starts and will make his first attempt on the synthetic track. Owner Starlight Racing, who campaigns the injured Algorithms, must be hoping that Heavy Breathing will be a formidable replacement and take the group to the Derby. A classic pedigree for the surface and distance plus impressive wins by a combined total of 12 lengths, indicates Heavy Breathing may leave his connections breathless.
Rounding out the field are Russian Greek, Red Jack, Holiday Promise, All Squared Away, Ill Conceived, Coach Royal, Tizanexpense, and Mr. Prankster.
The race is the 10th on Turfway’s Saturday card with a scheduled post time of 5:45 p.m. The race can be seen as part of “The Road to the Derby” series on NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus). The one-hour broadcast begins at 5:00 p.m. and will include Turfway’s Bourbonette Stakes for three-year-old fillies.
Only 90 minutes from Louisville, Turfway Park offers Louisvillians their first chance to see a Kentucky Derby contender up close and personal. For directions to Turfway Park and more information about the track, visit their website .
Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Derby