Spiral Stakes Handicapping Preview

Full Field of 12 for the Spiral Stakes in Kentucky

Turfway Park’s richest race and only graded stakes race goes Saturday as the Road to the Kentucky Derby continues in the Grade III $500,000 Spiral Stakes. The 1 1/8 mile race is run on the polytrack and should be a terrific betting race with a full field of 12 led by the 3-1 morning line favorite Airoforce, who tries the synthetic surface for the first time.

AIROFORCE was one of the most impressive two-year olds in 2015. He won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs defeating Derby hopefuls Mor Spirit, Mo Tom and Gun Runner. But he’ll need to regain his strong closing kick with Turfway Park leading jockey Albin Jiminez in the irons. Airoforce lost his 3-year old debut race when he encountered trouble and finished up the track in the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds. He has beaten better but could prove to be a vulnerable favorite.

SURGICAL STRIKE can rally from just off the pace or close like he did in winning the two-turn Battaglia last time out impressively. The 12-1 morning line has value for a horse that has shown he can handle the Turfwary polytrack.

KASSEOPIA looks to continue to improve in his sixth race and has shown class in running 2nd to Riker in the Grade III Grey Stakes at Woodbine. He finished third last time out in the Grade III El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Field and could be closing strong as he tries to make his way to the Kentucky Derby with a win.

Limited speed in the race makes it likely DON’T BE SO SALTY will break from the gate early and press the pace. He won on other synthetic tracks last year and Turfway can reward front runners. JENSEN is another horse that may figure on the front or near the lead, and he wired an allowance field at the Fair Grounds last out. First try on the synthetic surface brings caution as he makes his stakes debut against stronger, but damsire Hard Spun won the 2007 Spiral for Larry Jones, who also conditions Jensen and brings Florent Geroux in to ride.

AZAR breaks from the No. 12 post for trainer Todd Pletcher. The talented 3-year old has been most impressive this year in two starts and he won a Grade II turf race last summer at Saratoga. He’s well respected at 5-1 odds.

Looking for a long shot? Watch for #13 CRESCENT DRIVE if he gets in off the also-eligible list. Trainer Tom Amoss has a 34 percent win rate with his shippers, and while he has not run at Turfway, he does have proven synthetic form elsewhere and closed for third behind Don’t Be So Salty in the Display Stakes. He’ll have blinkers for the first time, and Amoss has a 68 percent in the money record with first time blinkers. OSCAR NOMINATED has the best chance of the four entries from the Mike Maker barn. His pedigree says he can handle the distance for the first time, and he’ll be stalking mid-pack. Off a recent win, he’ll step up with jockey Robby Albarado aboard, and he’s won four of his last ten starts for trainer Mike Maker.

The Spiral Stakes has been run at Turfway Park since 1972 and on the polytrack since 2006. Two winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby, in 2011 Animal Kingdom and 1992 Lil E. Tee. Three others went on to win other Triple Crown races including Summer Squall (1990, Preakness), Hansel (1991, Preakness and Belmont) and Prairie Bayou (1993, Preakness).

The Spiral Stakes post positions and morning line odds set by Bret Battaglia. Post time is 5:43 p.m. ET. The Kentucky Derby prep race a 50-20-10-5 point split for the top four finishers.

  1. That Makes Sense 30-1
  2. Surgical Strike 12-1
  3. Jensen 6-1
  4. Don’t Be So Salty 8-1
  5. Oscar Nominated 10-1
  6. Two Step Time 15-1
  7. Strike Up the Band 20-1
  8. Kasseopia 6-1
  9. Swagger Jagger 20-1
  10. Airoforce 3-1
  11. Ralis 6-1
  12. Azar 5-1
  13. Crescent Drive (AE)
  14. Diplodocus (AE)

The Turfway Park Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Stakes highlights a 12-race card that also includes the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks for three-year-old fillies, a prep race for the Kentucky Oaks, and the Rushaway Stakes.



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