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Wednesday, March 8, 2017 5:49 PM
  • Spiral Stakes


FLORENCE, Ky. (March 8, 2017) – The JACK Cincinnati Casino Spiral Stakes (G3), scheduled March 25 at Turfway Park, closed March 5 with 179 nominations, announced Racing Secretary Tyler Picklesimer.

For 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles, the Spiral Stakes is a qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby, which determines its starters by points earned in 37 designated races in the United States, Japan and Dubai. The Spiral Stakes winner earns 50 points, with 20 to the runner-up, 10 to the horse finishing third and five to the horse finishing fourth. A maximum of 12 starters can contest the Spiral Stakes, which offers a $500,000 guaranteed purse.

Entries will be drawn during the annual Call to the Post reception, slated for noon Wednesday, March 22, at JACK Cincinnati Casino.

Among Spiral nominees are the top three finishers of the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep run March 4: the dominating winner It’s Your Nickel, trained by Ken McPeek; runner-up En Hanse, trained by Mike Maker; and Star Empire, trained by Wesley Ward. McPeek has nominated four others to this year’s Spiral, including Sleepy Hollow Stakes winner Pat On the Back. Maker has nominated eight others, among them Sage of Monticello Stakes winner Fast and Accurate, and Ward has nominated two others, including stakes-placed Ventry Bay.

A win in the 2017 Spiral would be a first in the race for both McPeek and Ward. In addition to saddling last year’s winner, Oscar Nominated, Maker won in 2006 with With a City and in 2010 with Dean’s Kitten.

Todd Pletcher also has saddled three Spiral winners: Balto Star (2001); Flower Alley (2005) and We Miss Artie (2014). The sprawling Pletcher operation nominated 16 this year, including multiple graded stakes winners Made You Look and Theory and graded stakes-placed Bonus Points, Tapwrit and Sonic Mule.

Among the nominees are two fillies: El Paso Times Stakes winner Kell Paso, trained by Greg Green, and Mark Casse’s trainee Pretty City Dancer, winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway Stakes. While Casse has five times won the Spiral’s filly counterpart, the Bourbonette Oaks (G3), a win in this year’s Spiral would be his first in that race. The only filly to win the Spiral Stakes is Serena’s Song, who beat the boys in 1995 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Several horses already on oddsmakers’ short lists of Kentucky Derby contenders are also nominated to the Spiral, including Casse’s Classic Empire, Joe Sharp’s Girvin, Antonio Sano’s Gunnevera, Dale Romans’ J Boys Echo and Cathal Lynch’s El Areeb.

Horses nominated to the Spiral Stakes are automatically also nominated to the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes, a black type, 1 1/16-mile race for 3-year-olds. Nominations for the Rushaway and the $100,000 Bourbonette Oaks, a mile race for 3-year-old fillies and a designated points race for the Kentucky Oaks, close March 15. Both run on the Spiral Stakes undercard.

First post on Spiral Stakes day is 1:10 p.m. ET.


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