Friday, March 23, 2012 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., March 22, 2012 – The Vinery Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday is well supported by three undercard stakes, the Bourbonette Oaks (G3), one mile for 3-year-old fillies; the Rushaway Stakes, 1 1/16 miles for 3-year-olds; and the Hansel Stakes, 6 furlongs for 3-year-olds. All three boast competitive fields.
New York-based trainer John Terranova is shipping in a pair of 3-year-old fillies for the undercard stakes, and both are the morning line favorite in their respective races.
Terranova's entrant in the Bourbonette Oaks is More Than Love, the only stakes winner in the field. More Than Love missed by a nose last time out in her 2012 debut, the Feb. 4 Florida Oaks. She closed out 2011 with a trip to Hollywood Park, where she captured the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes by a nose. All four of her career starts have been on turf.
"She's had some seasoning and she has had to travel—once to California and back and forth to Tampa for the Oaks—and ran well both times," Terranova said. "She can take her race with her on the road. She's a very smart filly, very classy. Nothing seems to bother her. The only X factor is that she hasn't run over a synthetic track yet. Like She's Ready Made (in the Hansel), she has trained very well over it but hasn't raced over it. Hopefully, it won't be an issue in the afternoon."
What might be an issue for More Than Love is her focus. That is why she will be outfitted with blinkers for the first time on Saturday.
"Going back to her last two races, I thought she was a little green," said Terranova. "Even in the Miesque, she got right up to the frontrunner, and she kind of waited with her when she should have gone right by her. She got up and won, but barely, and there was a lot more there. In the Florida Oaks there was no pace, and she set a very easy pace with no one to target. Coming down the stretch, she kind of had her ears going back and forth and she was following the lines on the turf. That caused her to veer out in mid-stretch and she was waiting on horses, or waiting on something, and it wound up costing her the race since she only got beat a nose. The blinkers have got her a little bit more focused—a little bit more responsive."
As he does in the Spiral Stakes with Heavy Breathing and Holiday Promise, Todd Pletcher has two contenders in the Bourbonette Oaks. Both are likely to attract considerable attention at the windows.
In Lingerie dazzled Turfway fans with a 6 1/4-length debut win on Jan. 14 before a second-place effort behind the highly regarded Zo Impressive in a Feb. 25 allowance at Fair Grounds.
"She was purchased privately after breaking her maiden impressively at Turfway," said Pletcher. "It seemed kind of logical to go back to a surface she's proven on. She's trained well. I think she lost to a very good filly last time and had a little trouble at the beginning. We feel like a little improvement on that and getting back to a surface she has already won on should be right up her alley."
Pletcher also will run Dancing Solo in the Bourbonette. The Giant's Causeway filly finished second last time out as the 3-5 favorite in an off-the-turf Gulfstream Park allowance on Feb. 8.
"She's a filly that last summer we felt performed better on turf in the morning, and then didn't quite do what we thought she would do first out," said Pletcher. "She showed some improvement at Keeneland on the synthetic. She's also had some success on the main track, but we feel like with the pedigree and a little bit of turf background it's (a good spot for) her."
Mike Maker sends Original Kitten to the Bourbonette, with Rosie Napravnik aboard for the first time on her first trip to Turfway. Original Kitten comes in to the Bourbonette off a maiden special sprint win at Turfway. She was second at Turfway at the Bourbonette's one-mile distance in her second start.
"She was getting out in her first couple of races," Make said. "I don't know what was in her mind then, but we added blinkers last out and she won."
D. Wayne Lukas believes his Red Jack will have to step up in the Spiral and he has similar expectations for his Bourbonette starter, Bourbonesque.
"We think she's got some talent but she's in the same predicament as Red Jack; she has to prove herself," Lukas said. "In her case I wish the race was longer. It may be a little premature to run her in a stake but we've made a living running horses where they don't belong, so we'll see."
Bourbonesque was third in her last start, a maiden special on the dirt at Oaklawn at 1 1/16 miles, and shows two bullet works at the Hot Springs track, one a best-of-25 four furlong work in :47.20 on March 16 and the other a three-furlong breeze in :35 flat a week earlier.
Terranova's She's Ready Made is the 5-2 choice in the Hansel despite being the only filly in the field of nine. The primary reason Terranova chose the Hansel for She's Ready Made is surface.
"I wanted to get her on the Polytrack and see if that led us into a race like the Beaumont coming up at Keeneland," Terranova said. "I had her at Keeneland as a 2-year-old last year, and she trained well there. She's also bred well for grass, being by More Than Ready and out of a Stormy Atlantic mare. She was able to break her maiden on dirt but I don't think she has been at her best on it. She's a very nice filly, very fast, and I just want to see her get over the Polytrack."
Trained by Mark Casse, Lockout is the 3-1 co-second morning line choice with Hogy for the Hansel. Lockout has been off since October after three consecutive runner-up finishes, including the Swynford Stakes and the Grade 3 Grey Stakes, both at Woodbine.
"He's still a maiden but in the Grey he ran a great second to Prospective, our horse that just won the Tampa Bay Derby. We were looking for a spot to bring him back," said Casse.
Magical Season and Thomas Jefferson will represent Maker in the Hansel. Of Magical Season Maker said, "We considered the Rushaway for him but he ran second to Mr. Prankster in the sprint at Turfway (the Turfway Prevue) and then ran third to Mr. Prankster (in the one-mile WEBN Stakes at Turfway). It looks like his best will be sprinting."
One of the most intriguing 3-year-olds anywhere on Saturday's Turfway card is Rushaway 5-2 morning line favorite Flashy Dresser, who will stretch out to 1 1/16 miles after just a single start, a 6-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park on March 4 that he won by 6 3/4 lengths.
"We made a last-minute decision Monday to come up for this," said Flashy Dresser's owner and trainer Fred Seitz. "We were kind of perplexed as to where to place him. This just seemed like a good step forward to find out how good he might be. There's nothing in Florida that suits him for the next couple of weeks, so Florida was out. The Rushaway looked like a good spot where we could find out his distance ability or lack of ability to get the trip. He worked well on Polytrack at Keeneland last spring."
Flashy Dresser's win came against a field that included a full brother to Eight Belles and a half brother to Sky Mesa. The performance earned an excellent Beyer Speed Figure of 89.
"The track was playing slower that day," said Seitz. "He just kind of opened up on them suddenly. It was a pleasant surprise, though not a total surprise. That was a pretty good bunch of horses. To see him win like that was a nice development. He ran a 5 on the Thorograph sheets and a 9 on the Ragozin sheets, which kind of legitimizes the 89 Beyer."
Flashy Dresser drew the far outside post position in the field of eight. But Seitz sees that as a plus rather than a minus.
"Geometrically, there is a little bit of concern," said Seitz, "but from what I've seen on TVG and heard from other trainers as far as kickback, I'm not at all unhappy to be out there. He's not going to be used to having that in his face, so it might be an advantage to him as long as he doesn't get parked out too far."
In addition to Lockout in the Hansel and Stealcase in the Spiral, Mark Casse also has Dynamical and Bluedacious in the Rushaway Stakes. A son of Hard Spun, who won the Spiral Stakes in 2007, Dynamical was most recently third in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.
"I thought he ran OK in the Battaglia," Casse said. "He was down inside and I think he got a little intimidated. Then he came out and it looked like he might be going to win, but he flattened out. When I sent him down there I thought he'd win it, but that was his first race on Polytrack and only the third race of his life. We think he's a really nice horse, a really talented horse."
"Bluedacious is a bit of an underachiever and gets himself in trouble. He's matured over the winter and I think he's better at three than he was at two, but we thought throwing him into the Spiral was too much to ask right now. If he does well in the Rushaway we'll look at the Blue Grass or maybe the Lexington."
Either horse could progress to the Derby, said Casse. "You're always thinking that way this time of year."
The Rushaway field of eight also includes Gung Ho, from the barn of Mike Maker. Gung Ho broke his maiden at Presque Isle in his second start and followed with a neck win in the Sunday Silence Stakes at Louisiana Downs. He stepped way up to try the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and finished seventh. That Oct. 11 race was his most recent race.
"He was supposed to go in the Breeders' Cup Turf but came up lame the week of the race and we had to scratch," said Maker. "He's been ready to go for a couple of weeks now."
Carded as the seventh of 12 races Saturday, the Hansel begins the four stakes on the card. The Rushaway goes as the eighth race, the Bourbonette as the ninth, and the Spiral Stakes as the 10th.