Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Mar. 24, 2011 – The "luck of the draw" in racing matters—or not—depending on the length of the race, a jockey's skill, a trainer's confidence, and a horse's running style and comfort zone. After yesterday's post position draw for the Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday, trainers weighed in on where luck landed them.
On the day following the draw, Positive Response’s trainer Billy Morey was in an upbeat mood. "The post is fine," said Morey of his gelding's assignment to post two in the full, 12-horse field.
Morey also has no problem wearing the favorite's hat for Saturday's featured race. Turfway Park oddsmaker Mike Battaglia installed him as the morning line first choice at 3-1. "I'm all for it," he said. "I like being the favorite for half a million dollars."
Gary Contessa was very happy to draw the rail with Preachintothedevil. "I love the one hole," he said. "The worst part about it is the amount of time he has to stand in the gate, but he'll have the least amount of ground to cover to the first turn, and he won’t have anybody to his left to bother him. He doesn't have to be rushed. I'm tickled to death with the one hole.
"I'm not a Polytrack trainer but I know I have a good horse. (The morning line, which put Preachintothedevil at 15-1) makes me want to prove (oddsmaker Mike Battaglia) wrong. I think I have as good a horse as anyone in the race. If he does well here we might go to the Blue Grass, or maybe train up to Kentucky Derby. Or I could show up in the Wood. It's all up to the horse. I think he’s ready to run a big, big race.
"He'd never been over the Polytrack but he had an opportunity to work over it (Wednesday). I sent him four furlongs and got him in fifty (:50.40). He had a beautiful, fluid motion, just floated over it," Contessa continued.
The owners of Twinspired were equally pleased to be nearly on the outside. Their colt will break from post 11. "We wanted the eight on out, so this is where we want to be," said David Koenig of Sand Dollar Stable LLC, which owns Twinspired in partnership with Alpha Stables and Skychai Racing LLC. "He doesn't like to be down inside. He wants to be in the clear by himself. He'll be in the five path down the backstretch and then we'll see how it goes from there."
Twinspired was third behind Positive Response in the John Battaglia Memorial after a difficult trip, and Koenig echoed trainer Mike Maker's earlier assessment of that race. "As soon as (Twinspired) stumbled out of the gate, I turned to Mike and said, 'It's over,'" Koenig said. "He came back with a cut on his hock—it was superficial—but it just wasn't a good break. We weren't going to win it but the trip cost us."
Trainer Wayne Mogge was pleased that Taptowne would break from post nine. "It's perfect," he said. "If I had to choose I'd have chosen the eight hole, so this is just one over. It's not so far inside that you get beat up to the first turn and not so far outside that you get hung wide and have to commit a little earlier than you might prefer."
Trainer Tom Albertrani was content to draw the spot Mogge would have chosen. King Congie will break from post eight. "He's training really well up to the race and he's coming off three wins," said Albertrani, noting that the colt was disqualified from the third win for drifting out and placed third. "The post shouldn't be a factor. It seems like he'll drop behind the leaders and hopefully he'll tuck into a nice position going into the first turn."
King Congie's last three races came over turf at Aqueduct, Calder, and Gulfstream. The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes will be his first start on an all-weather surface. "My only concern is the Polytrack," Albertrani continued. "He's getting on a plane today, coming up from Palm Meadows, and will be there tonight. We'll get him out for a light jog tomorrow to get him out of his stall and stretch his legs, let him lope around the track. He seems like he'll relish the distance."
In his last breeze, King Congie covered five furlongs in 1:03 flat at Palm Meadows on March 16. "He did an open gallop a few days ago, and he looks ready to go."
Glint drew the outside post in the field of 12 but trainer Kellyn Gorder isn't too concerned. "It's better to be in the 12 hole going a mile and an eighth than in the 11 hole going a mile and a sixteenth," he said. "You have that extra run to the first turn. You can see what everybody else is doing. Hopefully you're not seven or eight wide going into the turn. Hopefully you can use just a little speed so you're only three or four wide, or you can take back."
Glint is the only horse in the race that has never run two turns, though not for lack of trying. "We missed so much training at Oaklawn (because of inclement weather)," Gorder said. "Then he'd already won two races so we needed a longer race for non-winners of three, and they couldn't get a race to fill. So I was forced to run him short again (in the Mountain Valley Stakes). I'm not training him to sprint. He's always trained like he would relax well and go long. He has a high cruising speed."
The distance question aside, Glint has already shown versatility, grace under pressure, and patience. He won his debut by more than nine lengths after leading nearly every step. In his second start, the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile on the all-weather surface at Presque Isle, he came from off the pace to win by three lengths after an eventful 6 1/2 furlongs.
"He got bumped at the start of that race, and then down the backside a horse broke down in front of him, and he still got up to win. He rated well in that race. In the third race (the Mountain Valley), my only concern was the slow pace. He galloped out huge."
The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes will run as the 10th race Saturday at approximately 5:31 p.m. ET. First post is 1:10 p.m. ET. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. to accommodate races from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai, including the Dubai World Cup.
General admission is $10, and although the day is expected to be chilly, patrons will find plenty of first-come, first-served seating in the grandstand. Some reserved seats also are still available.