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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Spiral Attracting Abundance of Interest

3/18/2013

At last count, the list of hopefuls for the Grade III Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park stood at 16, but there can be only 12 starters.

The order of preference is determined by earnings in graded stakes, then by earnings in stakes, and finally by career earnings. Turfway Park stakes coordinator Tia Murphy has the Spiral hopefuls list in order of preference as follows:

Uncaptured (trainer Mark Casse); Balance the Books (Chad Brown); Mac the Man (Jeff Greenhill); General Election (Kellyn Gorder); Capo Bastone (Todd Pletcher); Fear the Kitten (Mike Maker); Channel Isle (D. Wayne Lukas); My Name is Michael (Bill Mott); Black Onyx (Kelly Breen); Giant Finish (Tony Dutrow); Taken by the Storm (Ken McPeek); and For Greater Glory (Steve Hobby).  Needing defections are Cerro (IRE) (Graham Motion); Red Wings (Lukas); Divine Ambition (Darrin Miller); and Crop Report (Motion).

Mac the Man Well Rested

Mac the Man is safely among the dozen who can make the Spiral gate, standing third with two stakes wins, both at Turfway. Mac the Man won the Turfway Prevue at 6 1/2 furlongs in January and the 96ROCK Stakes at a mile in February.  After reviewing the colt’s seven starts, Greenhill decided to sit out the third prep, the John Battaglia Memorial on March 2, and train up to the Spiral.  Daily training has kept the stable’s star fit for the 1 1/8-mile Spiral.

“The Battaglia would have been four races in 2 1/2 months, so that would have made the Spiral five races in about three months.  I wanted to give him a little break.  We breezed him twice since the 96ROCK.  The second breeze, last Friday, he went in company.  The other horse broke off in front and then Mac the Man caught him about the eighth pole and drew off.  The other horse was trying to win, but I told the rider, “If your horse beats Mac the Man, just keep on riding.’"

Mac the Man went five furlongs in 1:02.40 (211).

“That was his last breeze before the Spiral, but he gallops a mile and a half and jogs a mile every day, so he’s fit and ready,” Greenhill said.

Norberto Arroyo Jr. has the return mount on Saturday.

McPeek Changes Lineup

Trainer Kenny McPeek always figured to have a strong hand for Saturday’s race. Frac Daddy was originally slated, but he needed some time to heal from a grabbed quarter and has been battling a throat ulcer, so McPeek said he'd wait for the Florida Derby. The McPeek barn will send in Taken by the Storm, an allowance winner on the grass at Gulfstream Park March 9. Taken by the Storm has already won at the Spiral distance of 1 1/8 mile, taking a maiden special on the Keeneland grass Oct. 27. He also was first in an Oct. 7 maiden special over Keeneland’s Polytrack but was disqualified to second.

“Frac Daddy’s slight ulcer that we’re dealing with is 90 percent there, but it’s not all the way there, so we made the decision to wait the extra week,” said McPeek. “Taken by the Storm is coming off a nice win, and it is fortuitous that we can bring him back quickly for the Spiral.”

Alan Garcia will have the riding assignment on Taken by the Storm, whom Garcia rode for the first time last time out.

Taken by the Storm is eleventh on the probables list with $73,385 in earnings.

McPeek also intends to run Pure Fun in the Grade III Fathead Bourbonette Oaks on the Spiral undercard.  Both McPeek horses will fly to Lexington Thursday and stable at Keeneland before vanning to Turfway Saturday morning.

Dutrow Hopes Giant Finish Is Growing Up

Giant Finish made his first foray into open company in the Battaglia Memorial.  The New York-bred son of Frost Giant rewarded trainer Tony Dutrow’s confidence with a strong second-place finish despite breaking from the far outside in the 11-horse field and dealing with a rapid early pace.

“I was very happy and a little surprised that he ran so well in the Battaglia, given that he is still so mentally immature,” said Dutrow.  “He’s a young horse.  He’s learning and improving. I don’t know what we’re going to see on Saturday.  I’m thinking we will see better horses in against him. I’m just anxious to see if he’ll improve.”

Dutrow’s confidence is buoyed by his experience to date with offspring of the young sire Frost Giant.

“I have a handful of them,” he said. “Some have performed well as 2-year-olds, but it’s always been my opinion that they’re going to be better as 3-year-olds.”

The Southern California-based Victor Espinoza will ride Giant Finish for the first time on Saturday.

Giant Finish currently stands tenth on the Spiral Stakes list by virtue of career earnings of $81,900.  Stabled at Keeneland, he will van to Turfway on the morning of the Spiral and be saddled by Mark Hubley, a longtime friend of Dutrow’s from their days competing against each other at Delaware Park.  

General Election Proven on Polytrack and Dirt

Trainer Kellyn Gorder believed that two sub-par performances at Fair Grounds did not tell the truth about General Election, and the colt proved him right in the Battaglia Memorial, closing to win by half a length over Giant Finish and For Greater Glory.

“He didn’t like the surface at Fair Grounds, but he’s already won on dirt, and he’s already won at Churchill.  He broke his maiden at Churchill, and he trained there last summer. And then he won the Battaglia on the Polytrack,” said Gorder.  “He came out of the Battaglia in really good shape. We gave him an easy breeze Saturday at Keeneland, and we’re looking forward to the race on Saturday.”

Gorder believes as well in his jockey, Albin Jimenez, who was aboard for the Battaglia and will be back up Saturday.  Jimenez is currently second in the Turfway standings behind Arroyo.

“Albin rode the horse really well,” said Gorder.  “He’s an up-and-coming rider.  I was telling someone the other day, this is a kid you’re going to hear about in the future.”

When

The Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes is the 10th of 12 races carded Saturday.  The race offers 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 10 for third, and five for fourth.  First post Saturday is 1:10 p.m. ET.

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