Twelve three-year-olds will be looking to punch their Kentucky Derby (G1) ticket in Saturday's $500,000 Spiral S. (G3) at Turfway Park. John Battaglia Memorial S. winner POSITIVE RESPONSE (Pomeroy) has been installed as the slight 3-1 favorite on the morning line by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, and rising turf star KING CONGIE (Badge of Silver) is listed as the 4-1 second choice for his first start on a synthetic track.
Positive Response captured the California Derby and Gold Rush S. over the Tapeta at Golden Gate Fields before recording a third in his graded bow, the February 12 El Camino Real Derby (G3). Trainer Bill Morey Jr. elected to send his charge to Florence, Kentucky, track for the March 5 John Battaglia, a 1 1/16-mile test over the local Polytrack, and Positive Response responded with an easy seven-length decision. The Florida-bred bay gelding will retain the services of Julien Couton while breaking from post 2 in the 1 1/8-mile Spiral.
After dropping his first two career starts on dirt, King Congie found his best form when trying turf for conditioner Tom Albertrani last fall, registering three straight wins, including the Hallandale Beach S. and Tropical Park Derby. King Congie is an obvious threat if he transfers his stellar turf form to Polytrack and regular rider Javier Castellano will accompany him from South Florida.
ANIMAL KINGDOM (Leroidesanimaux [Brz]) and DECISIVE MOMENT (With Distinction) are the 5-1 co-third favorites on the morning line. Animal Kingdom will be making his stakes debut in the Turfway showcase event following a good effort in a deep Gulfstream Park allowance. An impressive maiden winner over Keeneland's Polytrack two back, the chestnut missed the break last time but still managed to come flying late to be a head second. Alan Garcia will pick up the mount for trainer Graham Motion. Delta Jackpot Juvenile (G3) runner-up Decisive Moment has plenty of stakes experience, winning the Jean Lafitte S. two back, but the Juan Arias pupil will be looking to rebound from a fifth in the Risen Star S. (G2). He'll keep Kerwin Clark in the irons.
Trainer Mike Maker will be seeking his third victory in the last six runnings of the Spiral when he sends out TWINSPIRED (Harlan's Holiday). A 4 1/4-length winner over the WEBN S. at Turfway two back, the gray colt finished fourth as the second choice to Positive Response in the Battaglia. Now two for three on Polytrack, Twinspired merits respect with new rider Victor Lebron. Presque Isle Downs stakes winner GLINT (Sharp Humor), who finished second when opening his 2011 season in the March 5 Mountain Valley S. at Oaklawn Park, was scratched from last Saturday's Rebel S. (G2) in favor of the Spiral. The Kellyn Gorder runner drew the far outside post with Gabriel Saez.
The remaining Spiral entrants are BEACHCOMBING (Lemon Drop Kid), PREACHINTOTHEDEVIL (Pulpit), RESCIND THE TRADE (Put It Back), SON OF POSSE (Posse), TAPTOWNE (Tapit) and THIRTYFIRSTSTREET (Good Journey).
Turfway will also offer the $100,00 Rushaway S. for three-year-olds on the Spiral undercard. Nine horses are set for the 1 1/16-mile event, including multiple stakes-placed SWIFT WARRIOR (First Samurai) and recent allowance winners CRIMSON CHINA (Giant's Causeway), DISFRAZ (Lemon Drop Kid) and ST. IVAN (Suave).