Thursday, March 21, 2013 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., March 21, 2013 – With post positions drawn for the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3), the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3), and the listed Team Valor International Rushaway Stakes, only traveling and get-acquainted gallops remain until race day this Saturday.
Both the Spiral Stakes and the Bourbonette drew full fields of 12. The Rushaway came in at nine starters, including three who hoped to make the Spiral field instead.
Hall of Famer Bill Mott to Send My Name is Michael in Spiral
Running for the first time under the care of Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott, My Name is Michael was sent off the 8-5 favorite in his 2013 debut, the Feb. 2 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. The son of Macho Uno didn't get the job done that day, but he caught many an eye with his powerful late rush to secure a third-place finish.
"I thought it was a good race," Mott said. "The dirt hit him in the face with all the spray from the kickback there, but I thought he was finishing as well as anyone in the race."
My Name is Michael developed "a little fever" after the race and missed a few days of training, according to Mott. "We had been considering the Fountain of Youth, but we had to miss that one," he said.
Mott's charge is feeling much better now, and another come-from-behind effort under Joel Rosario is anticipated.
"It's not very easy to change a horse's running style," said Mott.
A 10-1 proposition on Mike Battaglia's morning-line, My Name is Michael will break from post 5 in the full field of 12. The colt shipped to Turfway from South Florida today and will gallop over the Turfway strip Friday morning.
Brown, Leparoux, Klaravich, and Lawrence Aim for Two
Trainer Chad Brown, jockey Julien Leparoux, and the ownership combo of Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence will together attempt to capture the two biggest prizes on the rich Saturday card. The group has 7-2 morning line second choice Balance the Books set for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Stakes (G3) and Corporate Culture--fourth choice on the morning line at 8-1--in the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (G3).
The Spiral represents the 2013 debut for Balance the Books, who made all four of his 2012 starts on grass, including a bang-up third in last November's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. The son of Lemon Drop Kid was originally slated to start in the Palm Beach Stakes earlier this month, but a minor illness forced Brown to scrap those plans and await the Spiral. His charge will break from the rail--a factor Brown will leave to his jockey.
"I don't see the rail as a problem," said Brown. "I'll let Julien figure that out. He's going to come from behind. I'd rather start from there than the outside."
Corporate Culture, a $180,000 purchase at Keeneland last year, ran well in two grass efforts at Belmont last year. Her third career start was a disappointing ninth-place finish as the favorite on New Year's Day in the listed Ginger Brew Stakes, also on turf, at Gulfstream Park.
"We bought the filly at the Keeneland April sale, where she moved very well on the Polytrack," said Brown in explaining why he thought the Bourbonette would be a good fit for Corporate Culture. "In the Ginger Brew, she just never fired. She just never seemed to care for the Gulfstream turf course. She's been training excellently, and if she handles the surface at Turfway, I think she can turn things around."
Both Balance the Books and Corporate Culture arrived at Turfway today and will gallop over the Turfway course Friday morning.
Like his Spiral rival, Mark Casse's Uncaptured also arrived at Turfway Thursday and will get acquainted with the track Friday morning.
Excluded from Spiral, Crop Report Shoots for the Rushaway
Should Team Valor International's Crop Report win Saturday's $75,000 Team Valor International Rushaway Stakes, Team Valor president Barry Irwin could conceivably present the trophy to himself. That was never the plan, though. Team Valor and trainer Graham Motion won the Spiral each of the last two years, with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Went the Day Well last year. The hope was that Crop Report would be their ticket for a "three-peat," but insufficient earnings compared to 15 potential Spiral rivals forced Crop Report into the Rushaway.
"This is the same spot we've been in the last two years with Animal Kingdom and Went the Day Well," said Motion. "Both of them barely snuck in to the race. I guess things caught up with us this year."
In 2011, Motion also had Crimson China as a planned Spiral competitor, but a lack of requisite earnings forced that one into the Rushaway as well. Crimson China finished second in that race.
Crop Report broke his maiden in his second career start, a mile event at famed Newmarket in Great Britain. He was later shipped to Motion's barn at Gulfstream, where the Kentucky-bred son of Medaglia d'Oro finished a fast-closing third after hitting the gate at the start of a 1 1/16-miles grass allowance. He will wear blinkers for the first time in the Rushaway.
"He's a very big, laid-back horse," said the British-born Motion. "Not only did he break slowly from the gate last time, he also didn't run away from there. You can get away with that at home, but not here. He's got to get into the race more this time. I'm not going to put a full-cup blinker on him, but I do think he will be sharper compared to his first race of the year. There's just such a difference between a straight mile at Newmarket and a two-turn race here in America."
Motion suggested that a top effort in the Rushaway could propel his colt to a start in the April 13 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Crop Report shipped from South Florida to Keeneland today and will van to Turfway on Saturday morning.
Motion also will saddle Le Fascinator in the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks. Joel Rosario has the riding assignment for both Motion starters.
For Greater Glory Hopes for Greater Luck
The running line comments for the Battaglia Memorial March 2 sum up For Greater Glory's race in three short words: "blocked, bumped, gaining." After the race started with bumper cars out of the gate, For Greater Glory was part of a roller-derby stretch run in that Spiral prep at Turfway. Despite the melee, the Afleet Alex colt came running late to finish third, beaten just 1 1/4 lengths. Trainer Steve Hobby is hoping the Spiral Stakes offers a smoother road for his colt, who showed grit when he broke his maiden by a neck two starts back at Oaklawn.
"He's training excellent," said Hobby. "His spot (post six) is fine. I didn't want anything like the 12 or something. Let's hope it's just a better start than last time. It's a tough race, but it's supposed to be, for a half-million dollars."
Hobby also will send out Marathon Lady in the Bourbonette Oaks. The Graeme Hall filly improved in each of her three starts and broke her maiden last out at Oaklawn in front-running fashion. "I think there's one outstanding filly in there for Kenny McPeek (the 8-5 morning line favorite Pure Fun), but I think my filly fits really well with the rest of them," Hobby said.
Lukas Has Three Shots to Increase His Turfway Stakes Record
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won 36 stakes at Turfway over the years, more than any other trainer. He hopes to add to that total with Red Wings in the Rushaway, Broken Spell in the Bourbonette and Channel Isle in the Spiral. Jon Court has the mount on all three.
Red Wings broke his maiden in his seventh start two starts back, but his 8-1-1-1 record is contradicted by two difficult trips back-to-back last year. He has two starts at the Rushaway's 1 1/16-mile distance, finishing third last out in an optional allowance at Oaklawn.
With 12 races on her resumeBroken Spell has more experience than any other runner in Saturday's stakes. In three starts this year she was third twice, one the listed Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn. She broke her maiden over the turf at Saratoga in her second start and closed from the clouds to be second in last year's Grade 1 Alcibiades on the Keeneland Polytrack.
After finishing 1-2 in the Rebel Stakes last Saturday with Will Take Charge and Oxbow, Lukas has the hot Derby hand. At 15-1 on the Spiral morning line Channel Isle will have to work to match his stable mates. He broke his maiden on his fifth try, finding the Churchill Downs turf to his liking, and won his first start this year, closing wide in an Oaklawn allowance.
All three of Lukas's charges took a day off today, though not by choice. "They’ve been bedded down at Churchill for a couple days now," said Lukas. "They closed the track there this morning because of weather and may have to again tomorrow, which is a concern, but they are both fit and ready."