The field for the Spiral S. (G3) at Turfway Park on Saturday has attracted an overflow crowd of hopefuls. Preference to run is determined first by graded stakes wins, then by stakes wins, and then by career earnings. Eighteen are reported to be pointing toward the race but only a dozen can start. Entries will be drawn Wednesday at a cocktail reception in the Maker's Mark VIP Tent at Turfway beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT).
Trainer Billy Morey flew POSITIVE RESPONSE (Pomeroy) from California to Turfway on March 1, half a week before he obliterated the field in the John Battaglia Memorial S. The gelding has been training at Turfway ever since.
Positive Response already had two stakes wins, the Gold Rush S. and the California Derby, prior to his romp in the Battaglia. In his last start before the Battaglia, he was third, beaten just two lengths, in the El Camino Real Derby (G3). All of his eight career starts have come over the all-weather surfaces.
Turfway-based trainer Wayne Mogge sent Battaglia Memorial runner-up TAPTOWNE (Tapit) out Saturday for a tune-up before the Spiral. Taptowne breezed four furlongs in :49.
"The colt's doing awesome," Mogge said. "The work was just maintenance. We're coming back off three weeks (since the Battaglia), so he's already fit. We're happy with his progress. He's gotten better every start, gaining experience. He's in good shape and at this point we're just keeping our fingers crossed that he stays that way."
Two starts back, Taptowne was third over a mile in the W.E.B.N. S., the second of Turfway's three local preps for the Spiral.
GLINT (Sharp Humor) arrived at Keeneland from Oaklawn in the wee hours Monday morning after trainer Kellyn Gorder decided to skip this past Saturday's Rebel S. (G2).
"We thought about the Rebel but then drew the 11-hole and it was a big field, and deep, so we decided to scratch and come to Kentucky," Gorder said. "He already has a stakes win on synthetic (the Fitz Dixon Jr. Memorial Juvenile at Presque Isle Downs). We haven't stretched him out yet but we're excited to see him go two turns. He's training really well -- had a nice breeze on Sunday (five furlongs at Oaklawn in 1:01 3/5, 16th best of 35 at the distance)."
Glint was third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths, in his most recent race, the Mountain Valley S. at Oaklawn March 5. It was his first start since the Presque Isle stakes win in September.
The good news for trainer Graham Motion is that he can confidently expect to have one horse in the Spiral and one in the Rushaway S., one of several stakes on the Spiral undercard. The bad news is that his intended Spiral horse may wind up in the Rushaway and his Rushaway horse may find himself in the Spiral.
"Our original idea was to run CRIMSON CHINA (Giant's Causeway) in the Spiral and ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimeaux [Brz]) in the Rushaway," Motion said.
But those plans may have to flip. Crimson China is currently 15th in the career earnings metric used for the Spiral for horses that haven't won stakes events.
"My original plan had nothing to do with ability," said Motion, who won Turfway's signature race with Adriano in 2008. "We feel that Crimson China is just a little more seasoned and ready to jump up against these kinds of horses. They're both very much on a par, though. I think we'll just have to let the cards fall as they do."
Crimson China and Animal Kingdom, both owned by Team Valor International, worked five furlongs together around the dogs on the Palm Meadows turf course Monday morning in 1:03 4/5, best of nine at that distance.
"They went super," Motion said. “They'll be vanning to Keeneland at 3 p.m. (Monday) and van over to Turfway the morning of the race."