Blinkers key to Spun to Run’s Pennsylvania Derby bid

September 04, 2019 10:58am
Blinkers key to Spun to Run’s Pennsylvania Derby bid

Spun to Run has given Carlos Guerrero reason to believe the saying that “good things come to those who wait.”

The Parx Racing-based trainer debuted the son of Hard Spun last October, but it wasn’t until March, in his fifth start, that Spun to Run won when adding blinkers.

“I hate to cover a horse up too early,” Guerrero said. “I want them to learn more. I think I’ve had horses that went on to have issues later in life because they didn’t learn enough. To me, I thought he was going to get blinkers when he’s ready.”

Spun to Run, who’s campaigned by Robert Donaldson, is 3-for-4 while wearing his new equipment, with the only defeat coming from a third in the Haskell Invitational (G1). A gritty victory Monday in Parx’s Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) is likely to send Spun to Run back to the top level.

Guerrero said he’ll train Spun to Run for a three-week turnaround to the Grade 1, $1 million Pennsylvania Derby.

“I’m going to get him ready for the race, but I’m not going to put any pressure on myself to make it,” the trainer said. “I think he can win it. If not, we could pick up a check.”

Spun to Run took a narrow lead at the top of the stretch in the 1 1/16-mile Smarty Jones only to see Gray Magician, the last-out Ellis Park Derby winner, eke on by with an eighth of a mile to go. Plenty game, Spun to Run battled back on the inside for a head victory.

The colt had given signs he needed blinkers earlier in his career. Guerrero noticed that in races, the colt switched leads at the same part of the track where he normally pulled up from morning gallops.

Feedback from Luis Reyes, who rode Spun to Run to a pair of thirds in maiden special weight company last winter, also helped. Reyes insisted Spun to Run could use blinkers when he placed behind fellow future stakes runners Haikal and Tikhvin Flew, respectively.

Guerrero finally made the call one morning when Spun to Run went galloping by at Parx, looking more in his trainer’s direction than forward on the track.

“I swear, we put on the full cups, and the next day when he galloped, I saw a good horse go by me,” Guerrero said. “I was like, ‘Wow.’ We finally figured out what we needed.”

Spun to Run broke his maiden Jan. 19 at Parx, then returned to beat winners March 23. Plans were forming to go in Laurel Park’s Federico Tesio as a prep for the Preakness Stakes.

But Spun to Run developed an entrapped epiglottis, the same breathing issue that knocked favored Omaha Beach out of the Kentucky Derby.

“We’ve been working with his throat,” Guerrero said. “He acts up a little bit — an ulcer here and there — but as long as we keep an eye on it, he stays pretty good. Besides that, everything else is great.”

Spun to Run made a third to Maximum Security in the July 20 Haskell his first race off the bench. That day, Paco Lopez picked up the mount, and he kept it for the Smarty Jones victory.

“Paco’s really, really high on this horse,” Guerrero said. “He thinks he can go to the Breeders’ Cup.”

The target — assuming Spun to Run maintains form through the Pennsylvania Derby — would be the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. At that distance, connections will consider cutting back the blinkers and letting the colt live up to his name.

“He could break him, let him run and finish running,” Guerrero said. “Paco thinks his numbers could go from a 95 Beyer to a 100-something Beyer when it’s just a matter of letting him run.”

2019 Pennsylvania Derby (G1)


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