Friday, March 22, 2013 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., March 22, 2013 – Capo Bastone, Todd Pletcher's entry for the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3), arrived at Turfway about 9 p.m. Thursday, spent an uneventful night, and jogged a mile over the Polytrack this morning. The colt, who drew the outside post 12, will be saddled for the Spiral by long-time Pletcher assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale.
"The outside post can be a challenge, but we'll let (jockey) Johnny (Velazquez) worry about that," said DePasquale. "Fortunately it's a mile and an eighth."
Capo Bastone came from far back to finish third in back-to-back Grade 1 races to end his 2-year-old campaign, the FrontRunner Stakes at Saratoga and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. He was closer to the leaders but still off the pace in winning his most recent start, an optional allowance race at Gulfstream in mid-February. Capo Bastone is third choice on the morning line at 9-2 but having raced already in 2013 may give him an edge over the two on the line ahead of him.
Second choice on the morning line at 7-2 is Chad Brown's trainee Balance the Books. Assistant trainer Jose Hernandez reported that the colt traveled well, arriving around 7 p.m. Thursday. He and Fathead Bourbonette Oaks (G3) contender Corporate Culture had an easy gallop around the track Friday morning.
As a 2-year-old, Balance the Books won two graded races on the turf, the Grade 3 With Anticipation at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland, both with strong closing runs. He was third last out in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) in November, and as for morning line favorite Uncaptured the Spiral Stakes will be Balance the Books' first start as a 3-year-old.
Mark Casse's Uncaptured heads the morning line at 3-1. The colt arrived yesterday and was on the Polytrack this morning under the watchful eye of assistant trainer David Adams.
Casse's contingent includesHonorable Guest and Star Contender, both entered for the Rushaway Stakes (listed). Star Contender, the Rushaway's morning line favorite at 5-2, made his career debut in stakes company, the accredited Simcoe, finishing third. He next reeled off two straight wins, including the Cup and Saucer for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds, and next finished second in the restricted Coronation Futurity. All of those performances came over Woodbine's turf or all-weather surface. He fared considerably less well in his first start on dirt and his first of 2013, the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, finishing a well beaten sixth.
"He's been off a little while but he won the stake at Woodbine," Casse said. "He could go to the Blue Grass if does well here."
Honorable Guest has never hit the wire worse than second in seven starts as a 2-year-old, though he was disqualified off the board in his third start. He’s been off since winning the restricted Frost King Stakes at Woodbine Nov. 7.
"He had success last year at Woodbine, and we're thinking he might be a Queen's Plate horse," Casse said.
The Rushaway Stakes originally had been cut from the Turfway stakes schedule but was returned to the lineup by the sponsorship of Team Valor International. Team Valor owns Crop Repor, the Rushaway's co-second choice with Honorable Guest at 4-1.
Awesome Mam schooled in the paddock this morning for trainer Shannon Ritter ahead of her start in the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks on Saturday. The Bourbonette will be the filly's first attempt at two turns.
"She's already won over this track (a maiden special weight in her debut Dec. 8), and we've got the track's leading rider (Norberto Arroyo Jr.), so I expect her to do well," Ritter said.
Awesome Mama also is a winner on dirt. The filly, by Awesome Again out of an A.P. Indy mare, posted an off-the-pace, two-length optional allowance win on the Oaklawn dirt Jan. 27. She put up a best-of-58 four-furlong breeze at Oaklawn last Saturday before shipping north.
Assistant Ben Ritchey will saddle Martha's Moon in the Bourbonette for trainer John Servis. "We think she'll do really well as long as she handles the surface," said Ritchey. "She put in a good work earlier in the week (at Palm Meadows, five furlongs in a minute flat, the best of 20 at the distance)." Martha's Moon will take her first steps on Polytrack during the walk over from the barn Saturday afternoon. She has three wins in seven starts and was third in her most recent race, the Gasparilla Stakes at Tampa Bay Jan. 12, after a two-month break.
The cable network TVG will be on-site Saturday to broadcast the entire 12-race card as well as a preview of the day. Horse Racing Radio Network will broadcast from Turfway from 5 to 6 p.m., presenting the Fathead Bourbonette Oaks and the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes live on Sirius 93 and streaming at www.horseracingradio.net.