Spiral Stakes 2017: Ripe for the Upset

March 24, 2017 12:35pm

The Spiral Stakes was once a top prep race for the Triple Crown trail and an indicator of top performances later on in a racing career. Horses such as Broad Brush, Summer Squall, Hansel, Lil E. Tee, Prairie Bayou, Serena’s Song, and Hard Spun have won the race, before going to go on to have stellar careers. Some were Kentucky Derby or Preakness winners, and some even became members of the Hall of Fame.

This year,  a full field of three-year-olds will chase 50 Kentucky Derby points for nine furlongs, which can vault them into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. In recent years, only Animal Kingdom has managed to pull off the Spiral/Kentucky Derby double. Can any of these colts follow in the footsteps of those before them?

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Blueridge Traveler — Kenny McPeek signed the $100,000 ticket for the colt as a yearling in the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky 2015 Select Yearling Sale. Since his racing career started in November, he has two second place finishes, and a maiden win, last out, in four total starts. In his first start as a three-year-old, he ran a good second to Local Hero, who was also chasing Kentucky Derby points on the Fair Grounds oval. McPeek brings the late running son of To Honor and Serve to the Spiral in search of Kentucky Derby points and for his graded stakes debut.

Soglio — This Graham Motion trainee is shipping in from Santa Anita after having a stakes placed run on Dec. 30 over one mile on the turf. The colt is a son of Scat Daddy out of a Seattle Slew mare, so the distance should not be an issue. However, the colt is proven on turf, and while synthetic is kind to turf horses, as can be Churchill, can the colt handle the horses more adept on the surface? In his debut at Saratoga, he did place third behind It’s Your Nickel, who was the winner of the John Battaglia, and defeated Master Plan, who is contesting the UAE Derby this weekend.

Fast and Accurate — Kendall Hansen purchased this son of his former champion, Hansen, for $85,000 at the OBS Two-Year-Olds in Training April Sale last year. The colt broke his maiden at Turfway in his fourth start and then won a minor stakes at Gulfstream going seven and one half furlongs on the turf. His pedigree is likely to transfer to dirt and he has already shown an affinity for Turfway. Can he get the distance, and are his hooves as fast as his name? Remember, this grey/roan son of Hansen will be on the lead, pending a clean break.

Convict Pike — Going two turns is seemingly no issue for this son of Broken Vow. He has gone over both turf and all weather, therefore, the synthetic at Turfway should not pose much of an issue. In his last start, he finished second to Master Plan. The $130,000 two-year-old purchase has proven consistent. He's only finished worse than fourth one time, a maiden special weight at Churchill over a mile on the dirt, finishing sixth. The distance ability is his best attribute here. If he can close into a solid pace, then he has a solid chance, but can he seal the deal and win?

Colonel Samsen — Eoin Harty sends out this Colonel John gelding after his last start, the GIII El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate, which did not go well, finishing a flat fifth. However, the gelding has shown he can go two turns, having broken his maiden at one and one sixteenth miles over the turf, and then backed it up with a win in the Gold Rush Stakes at a mile. This gelding does run late and will need a pace to run into.

Giant Payday — After a flat effort in the GIII Palm Beach, where he finished behind Ticonderoga (Tapit), this son of Giant’s Causeway is looking for a softer spot to collect another win. Ian Wilkes is also the trainer of McCraken, a strong contender for the Kentucky Derby. Giant Payday is out a Seeking the Gold mare, which likely gives the colt a little more speed. Yet another late runner, the colt likely needs a good amount of pace to run at. 

Shiraz — Mike Maker is sending this son of Tale of the Cat here to try and catch a soft spot for a graded stakes win. The colt did finish third in the Diana Beach Stakes (GIII) behind Made You Look and defeated fellow entrant, Kitten’s Cat. The colt did break his maiden at Belmont over the turf course, where he was able to stalk the pace and pounce. Without a lot of early pace, this colt could find himself close to the front.

Kitten’s Cat — Here is another Ramsey horse, with trainer Joe Sharp this time, invading the Spiral Stakes. The Ramseys have had Oscar Nominated, Dean’s Kitten, and We Miss Artie win this race in recent years. This colt is coming in off a second place finish in the Palm Beach Stakes, and before that, this son of Kitten’s Joy pulled off a win in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes. A pattern has developed with this colt, and if he keeps the pattern of lose, win, lose, win, etc., he will win this race. The colt will be a part of the early pace given a clean break.

Parlor — This $60,000 Lohnro colt has already paid back his purchase price, bring in over $100,000 in three starts, two of them being wins. The Eddie Kenneally colt has never raced on anything but the turf, and has shown he can win at a mile. His dam is by Pulpit, who has shown he can sire any type of horse. Parlor has the late kick and may not be as pace dependent as some of the others, based on his previous races.

Bronson — Fourth in the Sanford Stakes, this Medaglia d’Oro colt is looking for stakes win and coveted Kentucky Derby points. The colt was purchased for $350,000 and has been a bit slow getting his feet off the ground. However, he is placed on the turf, and a winner on the dirt. He should handle the synthetic fine, and given a clean break, he will be a part of the early pace.

King and His Court — After racing exclusively at Woodbine, making nine starts in 2016, winning three of those, two in stakes races, one being at the nine furlongs. In his first start on traditional dirt, in the Sam F. Davis, the colt finished a lackluster ninth behind McCraken. He has shown, at Woodbine, that he is versatile, closing on and stalking the pace. He is versatile and should be able to adjust to the pace presented.

En Hanse — This is the only colt from the local prep, the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, to return for the Spiral Stakes. He was the second choice behind It’s Your Nickel, who won the race. En Hanse did break his maiden at Turfway in his fifth start, then returned, following a poor start in the Space City Stakes, to win the WEBN Stakes. The colt has early speed and is likely to be up front early, but will have to break on top to get over before the turn, or he will be forced wide. Can he get the nine furlongs?

Overall, the Spiral Stakes is a wide-open prep race for horses to earn 50 points toward a start in the Kentucky Derby in May.

Casey’s Picks: Kitten’s Cat, Parlor, Bronson


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Meet Casey Laughter

I have loved horses for as long as I can remember, starting when Funny Cide crossed the wire in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. Thanks to my Dad, I now consume every ounce of thoroughbred literature I can.

When I am not stuffing my brain with pedigrees, I spend my free time with my fiancé, Daniel, and our dog, a Boxer mix named Piper. I enjoy hiking, reading, canoeing, and just relaxing.

In addition to Horse Racing Nation, for which I've shot numerous events, including the 2018 Kentucky Derby, I work for Bella Baby Photography, as well as a blog on my own platform.

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