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March 29 Barn Notes: Spiral Stakes

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 1:05 PM
  • Spiral Stakes


FLORENCE, Ky. (March 29, 2016) – Turfway Park stakes coordinator Randy Wehrman noted little change Tuesday morning to the list of horses likely to enter the $500,000  Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) and $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks (G3), both set to run at the Northern Kentucky track on Saturday, April 2

The 1-1/8 mile Spiral Stakes offers 85 points toward the Kentucky Derby (G1), with 50 to the winner. The one-mile Bourbonette Oaks (G3) offers the same reward toward the Kentucky Oaks (G1).


In addition to Strike Up the Band and Oscar Nominated (see March 28 notes), trainer Mike Maker is aiming SWAGGER JAGGER and TWO STEP TIME at the Spiral Stakes.

Owned by Warner Thoroughbreds, Lewis III, Lewis, Setzer and partners, Swagger Jagger has twice won at two turns, both coming at Gulfstream Park West on the turf and including the Pulpit Stakes. But the colt finished ninth of 12 in his most recent start, the 1-1/16 mile Battaglia Memorial at Turfway March 12. Maker’s frustration with the trip was apparent.

“He was boxed in with nowhere to go,” Maker said about the Battaglia. “He has a free-running style and likes to be outside. After that trip I think he deserves another try on the Poly.” Maker has tapped Francisco Torres to ride.

Swagger Jagger has two wins and a third from eight starts. He trains at Turfway under the care of Maker assistant John Lynde and breezed last Saturday, going five furlongs in :59.80, second-fastest of 31 moves at the distance that day.

On Feb. 27, in his second start this year, Two Step Time took the 1-1/16 mile Texas Heritage Stakes by a neck at Sam Houston Race Park. That win came after a one-length loss in the Ocala Breeding Sales Championship Stakes in January, also at 1-1/16 miles. Two Step Time has missed the money only once in six starts, all coming on turf or all-weather surfaces.

“He’s at the top of his game,” said Maker, who trains Two Step Time for Get Away Farm. “He’s already gone two turns and he’s already won on synthetic. The extra distance (of the 1-1/8 mile Spiral) won’t be a problem.”


The Battaglia Memorial is the second local prep for the Spiral Stakes, and the winner is following the plan, said trainer Ben Colebrook. SURGICAL STRIKE made a dynamic and dramatic late run in that race, circling the bulk of the field and blowing by the leaders to win by 2-1/4 lengths. Previously he had finished third in the WEBN Stakes, a 6-1/2 furlong sprint that is the first local prep and Surgical Strike’s first start on an all-weather surface.

“Two turns is what he wants to do,” said Colebrook. “I knew the first race was too short for him, but I wanted to see how he would handle the Poly. He came out of the (Battaglia) great. He ran a big race that day, considering how wide he was and how he got shuffled back on the first turn.”

Asked about Kentucky Derby prospects should Surgical Strike win, Colebrook said, “We’re just going one race at a time. He’s never been on the dirt, so the Derby isn’t on my radar yet. It’s good to have a plan, but you have to be willing to go to Plan B or C pretty quick.”

Colebrook does have the Bourbonette Oaks on his immediate radar, for AMERICAN DOLL, who won a one-mile allowance race March 12 at Turfway that served as the stakes prep.

“She’s been an interesting filly,” Colebrook said. “We bought her from the WinStar consignment at the November sale, and she’s won three of her four races for us since then. She’s done nothing wrong right through her conditions.”

American Doll also has run only on all-weather or turf tracks but Colebrook said, “I think she may be better on dirt. Of the two (horses), she would be the one for dirt.”

Colebrook described both Surgical Strike and American Doll as “fresh and happy, both dead-fit.” Orlando Mojica rode both to their recent wins and will have the call on both Saturday. Both are stabled at Keeneland and will ship to Turfway on race day.


Trainer Ken McPeek confirmed Monday that he will enter two fillies in the Bourbonette Oaks: WONDERMENT, a restricted stakes winner at Belmont Park last summer, and DORODANSA, a Keeneland maiden winner at two who was third in February’s Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

Wonderment, by Cosmonaut, was third against fellow New York-breds last month in Aqueduct’s Franklin Square Stakes, her 3-year-old debut, and has trained smartly at Keeneland since.

“She had a decent third in New York but we want to stretch her out once and see how she handles that,” McPeek said. “I think she’ll relish the stretch-out.”

Doradansa, by Bellamy Road, started her 2016 campaign with a good second going two turns against winners at Oaklawn Park and followed that up with her fast-closing third in the Martha Washington. Last time out she finished fourth in Oaklawn’s Honeybee (G3) by 14 lengths.

“I think she’ll like the Polytrack a lot more than she liked the dirt,” McPeek said. “She’s a good, solid filly and I think she’s better than her last race.”

Corey Nakatani, third in the Oaklawn Park jockey standings, will be aboard Wonderment for the first time, while Chris Landeros has the return call on Doradansa.

McPeek’s stakes probables for Saturday also include RATED R SUPERSTAR in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes. The trainer said he was interested in trying the Grade 1 stakes-placed Kodiak Kowboy colt on Polytrack. Nakatani will ride.

The maximum number of starters in the Spiral Stakes and Bourbonette Oaks is 12, with two also-eligibles. Should more than 12 pass the entry box, preference is given first according to graded stakes earnings in order (I-II-III), then by stakes earnings, and then by career earnings.

Probable to enter the Spiral Stakes: AIROFORCE (trainer Mark Casse); AZAR (Todd Pletcher); CRESCENT DRIVE (Tom Amoss); DIPLODOCUS, added to the list Tuesday morning by trainer Richard Baltas;

DON’T BE SO SALTY (Gary Contessa); JENSEN (Larry Jones); KASSEOPIA (GB) (Graham Motion); OSCAR NOMINATED (Maker); RALIS (Doug O’Neill); STRIKE UP THE BAND (Maker); SURGICAL STRIKE (Ben Colebrook); SWAGGER JAGGER (Colebrook); THAT MAKES SENSE (D. Wayne Lukas) and TWO STEP TIME (Maker).

BACKTOGETHERAGAIN (Howard Wallace), GIMLET (Pletcher), ZAPPERINI (Greg Foley), and WHATAWONDERFLWORLD (Casse) are possible for the Spiral but may opt instead for the 1-1/16 mile Rushaway Stakes on the undercard.

Probable to enter the Bourbonette Oaks: AMERICAN DOLL (Colebrook); ALTA RITA (Pavel Matejka); BANREE (Wesley Ward); BATTLE GIRL (Kellyn Gorder); CASTIEL’S ANGEL (Tom Amoss); DORODANSA (McPeek); EGYPTIAN HONEY (Maker); INCONCLUSIVE (Richard Scherer); LOOKOUT SISTER (Graham Motion); LOPE (Al Stall Jr.); MARQUEE MISS (Ingrid Mason); MISS METEOR (Todd Pletcher); MISTEVIOUS (Nick Caruso); RED FERN DOLL (Grant Forster); SOCIAL BUTTERFLY (Shannon Ritter) and WONDERMENT (McPeek).



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