wasn't nominated to the Triple Crown before the $550,000
Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park Saturday,
but when the dark bay colt crossed the wire 1 1/2 lengths the best,
owner Sam Herzberg was immediately ready to put up the late nomination
"That was the plan," said trainer Kelly Breen, reached by
phone a few minutes after the race. "If he won the Spiral, his next
start would be the Derby. He's not nominated now, but he will be, in
about 15 minutes."
Early nominations to the Triple Crown required
payment of $600 and closed January 26. As it happened, late
nominations, which carry a $6,000 fee, close Spiral Stakes day.
post-race decisions may have gone according to plan, but the Spiral
Stakes itself did not, at least in the early going. Black Onyx broke
from post nine but was the eighth horse to leave the gate in the field
of 12 3-year-olds. While Mac the Man and Giant Finish sprinted for the
lead, Black Onyx dallied.
"We had pulled out the past
performances and planned the trip, and then the gates opened and he was
sluggish," said jockey Joe Bravo. "I was saying to myself, 'Don't tell
me he's not taking to the track.' But after an eighth of a mile he took
hold of the bit and started pulling me along."
Bravo put Black
Onyx about mid-pack and to the outside. At the three-eighths pole he
asked the colt to go, caught up with the leaders, and hit the front as
the field turned for home. Taken by the Storm, who had overtaken the
early leaders with less than three furlongs to go, stayed with Black
Onyx into the stretch but couldn't keep pace and finished fourth.
Uncaptured, the dual graded stakes winner who was making his first start
since November, was up for second, a length behind the winner. The
23-1 long shot Giant Finish did well to stay close throughout the 1 1/8
mile race and finished another length back in third.
setting the first quarter in :23.74, Mac the Man settled into a textbook
:48.30 for the half. Taken by the Storm continued the sensible pace in
his turn, going six furlongs in 1:13 flat. Black Onyx set the final
time at 1:51.98.
Off at 15.70-to-1, Black Onyx rewarded his
backers with $33.40 to win, $14.20 to place, and $10.80 to show. The
9-3-10-11 Superfecta paid $47,274.
Finishing fifth and back were
Fear the Kitten, For Greater Glory, Channel Isle, the 3-1 favorite My
Name is Michael, Capo Bastone, General Election, Balance the Books, and
Mac the Man, who dropped back after a half-mile and was eased in the
The Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes is the
first stakes win for Black Onyx, whose record now stands at three wins
and a second in five starts. The winner's share of the Spiral
purse—$317,130—pushed his earnings to $407,810 for Herzberg's Sterling
Racing. The colt has now won on all three racing surfaces: dirt, turf,
"He's proven he's a multi-talented horse," said Breen.
Black Onyx was bred in Kentucky by Cloverleaf Farms II, Inc. and is by Rock Hard Ten out of the Cape Town mare Kalahari Cat.