Tuesday, March 5, 2013 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Mar. 5, 2013 – The 42nd running of the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park closed Saturday with 130 nominations representing top trainers and owners across the continent. The Grade III race, scheduled for March 23 over Turfway's Polytrack, is a 50-point qualifying test for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Trainer Graham Motion owns back-to-back wins in the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes, taking the 2011 edition with eventual Kentucky Derby and Eclipse Award winner Animal Kingdom for owner Team Valor International and returning last year with Went the Day Well for Team Valor International and Mark Ford. Motion nominated four to this year's running: Crop Report and Cerro for Team Valor; Intrepid Citizen for Team Valor and Paul Fowler Jr.; and Heat Press for Kevin Plank's Sagamore Farm.
Motion made history with Animal Kingdom, who was the first Kentucky Derby winner to never have raced on dirt before attempting the Run for the Roses.
Mac the Man won the Turfway Prevue and the 96ROCK Stakes, the first two local preps for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes, and likely would have been favored in the third, the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes last Saturday. Trainer Jeff Greenhill skipped that prep, however, and plans to train his stable star up to the Spiral.
Mike Maker won the Spiral Stakes in 2006 with With a City and 2010 with Dean's Kitten and has nominated seven to the 2013 edition, including stakes winners Animal Style and Admiral Kitten for Ken and Sarah Ramsey and graded stakes-placed Fear the Kitten for Frank Irvin. Also nominated from the Maker barn is undefeated J. J. Got Even, a son of 1999 Spiral Stakes winner Stephen Got Even, for Skychai Racing and Sand Dollar Stable.
Five nominees represent the barn of Mark Casse. Four of those run for owner John Oxley, including multiple stakes winner and Grade I-placed Dynamic Sky and multiple graded stakes winner Uncaptured.
Dale Romans, newly honored with the 2012 Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer, would be seeking his first win in the Spiral Stakes and has nominated six, including graded stakes-placed Dewey Square and impressive last-out Gulfstream winner Pick of the Litter.
The deep bench of trainer Todd Pletcher is represented by 15 nominees, including graded stakes-placed Capo Bastone, Charming Kitten, Delhomme, Forty Tales, and Palace Malice and graded winners Shanghai Bobby, Revolutionary, and Overanalyze. Pletcher won the Spiral Stakes with Balto Star in 2001 and Flower Alley in 2005.
The penultimate race in the first leg of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, the 1 1/8-mile Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes awards 50 points to the winner, 20 points to the runner-up, 10 points for third place, and 5 points for fourth place. The winner is expected to earn enough points to make the Derby field, which is limited to 20 starters.
The Spiral Stakes is sponsored this year for the first time by Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, which enjoyed its highly anticipated grand opening on Monday. The Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes is supported by the Team Valor Rushaway Stakes (listed) and the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (G3), the latter a 50-point race for the Kentucky Oaks (GI). This year is the first that all three races have been sponsored.
Entries for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes will be drawn at the new casino on Wednesday, March 20.