As three colts thundered home to the finish line in the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral Stakes, one couldn’t wait for it to get there, while the other two wanted one last lunge at the leader. Taking full advantage of every inch of the 1 1/8 miles of Turfway Park’s signature race, it was We Miss Artie sticking his nose in front on the wire. Harry’s Holiday, who pressured a solid pace the whole way, and kept Coastline barely at bay through the entire stretch run, was the brave, but unlucky runner-up.
The winner, ridden by Hall of Fame rider, John Velazquez found good position early on, in the middle of the pack, and on the outside, as a speed duel was contested on the front end through fractions of :22.78 and :47.21. We Miss Artie made his move on the far turn, and looked like a winner when the field came spinning out of the turn. Still ahead of him, though, was a pair of long shots, in Harry's Holiday and Coastline, and neither had any designs of giving up easily. In fact, for a while in deep stretch, it looked like the order might not change the final eighth of a mile, but We Miss Artie surged again, and got there in time to nip Harry's Holiday on the line by a nose, with Coastline just another head farther back in third. Winning trainer, Todd Pletcher, was more excited than usual by the thrilling finish.
“It really was (a great closing run),” said Pletcher. “Very exciting. I wasn’t sure he got there but very excited to see that he did.”
Recently named the early favorite for the Queen’s Plate, We Miss Artie was sent off as the 7-2 second choice in the 12-horse Spiral field. Before the Ontario-bred heads north, though, he almost certainly has a date in Louisville. We Miss Artie earned the lion’s share of the 85 Kentucky Derby 2014 points offered in today’s prep. The 50 points is more than enough to qualify him for the field, and consider his owner, there is no doubt that he will be in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
"I'm only 78 years old so I only have about 20 or 25 more Kentucky Derbys ahead of me and I'm trying to take every opportunity to get one there," Ken Ramsey said the other day, before winning the Spiral.
We Miss Artie is one of three contenders that the Eclipse Award winning owns, with Bobby’s Kitten and Vicar’s In Trouble, being the other two.
A Ramsey homebred, We Miss Artie raised his record to three wins and two seconds in eight starts. The son of Artie Schiller was second on the turf in Gulfstream Park's Kitten's Joy Stakes, before finishing eighth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, in his first two starts of 2014. He was already a grade 1 winner coming in, thanks to his score in Keeneland's Breeders’ Futurity last fall. Today’s win, with a final time of 1:52.26, marked only his second start on a synthetic surface.