Spun to Run has 'good chance' to defend his turf in Pennsylvania Derby

Parx Racing Notes
September 20, 2019 04:58pm
Spun to Run has 'good chance' to defend his turf in Pennsylvania Derby

Robert Donaldson’s Spun to Run will make his second Grade 1 start in Saturday’s $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Parx Racing-based trainer Juan Carlos Guerrero.

The Hard Spun colt won the Smarty Jones at Parx Sept. 2 by a head after a stretch battle with Grey Magician. The Smarty Jones was the first graded stakes victory for Spun to Run, who looks to add a Grade 1 to his resume.     

“Everything is going very well with him right now,” Guerrero said. “He came back out of that race very good. All systems go so far. He’s been training really good since he ran and never really missed a beat. We worked him the other day then gave him a little blowout, and he came back good off his work.”

The Smarty Jones was the breakthrough race Guerrero and his connections waited for. The victory came roughly a month and a half since his third behind Maximum Security and Mucho Gusto in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. 

“He ran big, ran huge, but that’s what I expected of him,” Guerrero said of the Smarty Jones. “He’s been unlucky before that. In the Haskell he ran big too, but Paco (Lopez) moved him out a little bit too soon, and he lost some lengths there. He was real mad at himself because he knew. He said he should have waited a little longer to go outside, but you can see this horse runs inside, outside, it doesn’t matter. It was a crazy day with the heat and all, but we still got a nice check.”

Spun to Run brings a record of 3-for-5 at Parx into the Pennsylvania Derby, including a maiden victory in his fifth start Jan. 19 and an allowance win March 23. Guerrero hoped to try graded stakes, with a prep in the April 20 Federico Tesio at Laurel, but a setback that required surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis halted those plans heading into the late spring and summer campaign.  

“I was going to run him in the Tesio because I thought he could win that,” Guerrero said. “We were training toward the Tesio and one morning I’m walking next to him after a workout, and I can hear him making weird noises. I knew that wasn’t him, so we went ahead and scoped him and that’s when we found out he was entrapped. 

“I was so mad. He missed the Tesio and I was going to send him to the Preakness from there, then all this happened. We didn’t know when he was going to come back. When he came back he was training really well. He had been training well before, and now he was still going well, but now I had no race to run him in. I was even looking at allowance races, but there was nothing anywhere.”

With no place to run, Guerrero opted for the July 20 Haskell and took a shot.

“I called down to (Monmouth) and I asked them if they wanted to invite me to the Haskell,” Guerrero said. “At first they were like, ‘who?’ But a few days later they called back and said they would love to have me. Everybody thought I was crazy. They were saying to me ‘why would you send that horse?’ He's young, but I see him everyday. 

“When you work a horse five-eighths and more, the gallop-out usually tells you everything. This horse was galloping out after working 59 and change, he was galloping out in 12. One time I got him at a mile in (1:42), and I was like ‘wow!’ Then he did it again. The harder you train him the more he gets into it. That’s why he’s able to take these close races.”

Guerrero is confident Spun to Run is in peak form heading into the Pennsylvania Derby. The defection of Maximum Security leaves a field of six and only one – Spun to Run – with a local start. 

“Parx is home for us. He loves Parx and loves the dirt,” Guerrero said. “It’s still going to be a tough race. His numbers are good with everybody in the race now. The West Coast shipper, Improbable, I really loved him in the (Kentucky) Derby. I loved him early but he’s never performed. He loves California and that’s it. It’s wide open and we have a good chance.”


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