In many ways today’s $550,000 Spiral Stakes looks like a wide-open affair. Both of the favorites, Uncaptured and Balance the Books, have not run yet this year, and there are plenty of colts in here that look like they have the potential to step up and earn themselves a one-way ticket to the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Further investigation, though, leads me to the rather clear fact that this is a race with very little speed. Therefore, the speed of the race would seem to have an excellent tactical advantage, and his name is Mac the Man. A winner of three straight, the son of El Corredor has been a terror since arriving to Turfway Park last December. A dominating winner over Turfway Park’s Polytrack surface in each of his three starts here, Mac the Man also was fitted with a glue-on shoe after coming back with a sore hoof four starts back. A two-time stakes winner, Mac the Man is making a large step up and class today, but his numbers fit with these, and if he can control the pace, as expected, he should be very tough to catch. I would expect him to be a little lower than his 10-1 morning line odds, but hopefully not significantly so.
Race 7 – Maiden Special Weight
Not particularly the most promising of maiden fields you will ever see, the #2 Sir Squire and #6 Impassable Canyon appear to be the standouts. Sir Squire has the best form of any of the horses that have run, has a decent run over this surface against a next-out winner, and sports a sharp drill over the track. Impassable Canyon is a well-bred son of Tapit, has a series of solid works over the track, and should be ready to run for the successful duo of trainer, Michael Maker, and rider, Rosie Napravnik.
Race 8 – Rushaway Stakes
#9 Crop Report looks to have this field over a barrel. Very well regarded by his connections, Team Valor and Graham Motion, the son of Medaglia d’Oro made a good impression in his U.S debut when finishing a fast closing third at Gulfstream Park. He gets blinkers today and with plenty of speed to run at should take control of this race early in the lane, provided he handles the Polytrack. If he doesn’t #2 Divine Ambition, coming off a sharp seven furlong win at Gulfstream, looks like the most likely winner.
Race 9 – Bourbonette Oaks
This race is all about #5 Pure Fun. If the big filly runs her race it looks like the rest are only competing for second money. A rousing winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet last time, Pure Fun makes her 2013 debut today in preparation for the Kentucky Oaks. Garrett Gomez comes in just to ride her, and the pair also should have an honest early pace to run at this afternoon. If there is a big upset in the Bourbonette, look for the #10 Broken Spell to turn the trick. Stuck on dirt the last several starts, she had excellent form on turf and synthetics as a juvenile.
Race 10 – Spiral Stakes
While #7 Mac the Man will be the main play, the Spiral is a race that requires coverage. Of the rest, I like the classy #3 Uncaptured, and Bill Mott’s #5 My Name is Michael next best. A five time stakes winner, Uncaptured should be able to stay close to Mac the Man early, and if the top pick shows any chinks in his armor, this one should be there to pounce. Meanwhile, My Name is Michael ran a solid race in his dirt, and seasonal debut for his new trainer in the Sam F. Davis. He also has solid synthetic form as a juvenile, so any improvement in his second start for Mott makes him a big threat today.
50-cent Pick 4 – 2, 6 / 2, 9 / 1, 4, 5, 9, 10, 12 / 3, 5, 7 = $36
50-cent Pick 4 - 2, 6 / 9 / 5 / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 = $8
50-cent Pick 4 - 2, 6 / 2, 9 / 5, 10 / 3, 5, 7 = $12