First run in 1972, the Spiral Stakes has been the spring fixture for Turfway Park, located in Florence Kentucky. First run at the one mile distance, the race was elongated to a mile and an eighth in 1988 and has been run at that distance since. Notable winners of the Spiral include Broad Brush (1986), Summer Squall (1990), Hansel (1991), Lil E. Tee (1992), Hardspun – a personal favorite (2007), and Animal Kingdom (2011) who was the last Spiral Winner to go on to capture the Run for the Roses. While Animal Kingdom was able to translate his polytrack form over to the dirt, Spiral winners tend to be horses more geared to the turf and less so to classic dirt tracks. The race, however, does offer 85 qualifying points for the Derby, with 50 points going to the winner in case those getting their picture made in the winner’s circle catch Derby fever.
This year the Spiral has a full field of 12 three-year-olds looking to pick up the winner’s share of the $500k purse. Morning line favoritism lands on Kitten’s Point (4-1) for trainer Joe Sharp. The son of Kitten’s Joy has been a stellar turf performer winning three of his seven turf starts. In his last race, he ran a good second in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park. He should be sitting a pressing or stalking trip behind the early speed of Fast and Accurate (15-1) and En Hanse (15-1). He is a deserving favorite and a must use for your multi-race bets. However, I believe his odds will float down from the morning line and there are others in this race that entice more.
There are four other entries in this race that offer a bit more value and have an opportunity to cross the wire first. Soglio (6-1) ships in from Santa Anita for trainer Graham Motion. The Scat Daddy colt has hit the board in five of his six career starts. He broke his maiden at Del Mar in December overcoming the far outside post while beating a field of 12. In his last two races, he finished third and second respectively and was closing in at the wire to only run out of real estate. He gets more ground to work with today stretching out to a mile and an eighth, a distance that suits his pedigree being out of the Seattle Slew mare, Sea of Showers. Motion flies in Trevor McCarthy to take the reins.
Giant Payday (8-1), a son of Giant’s Causeway is interesting in this race. The Ian Wilkes trainee may get a bit lost on the tote board in this highly competitive race. Giant Payday finished off-the-board in the Palm Beach Stakes but was swung four wide coming off the final turn and was closing down the stretch. If you watch the gallop out after that race he stretched out nicely, indicating he may have needed more ground to work with. His best races have come on turf yet he did not disgrace himself in his two dirt tries finishing second in both. This will be his third start off the layoff and I expect him to improve in this race.
Parlor (5-1) is a lightly raced Lonhro colt with only three career starts. He came off a five-month layoff in February to win going away, while under wraps, in an allowance race at Tampa. He broke his maiden at Ellis Park beating the morning line favorite in this race. He could easily be undefeated as he just came up a neck short in his second career race at Kentucky Downs. The sky is the limit for Parlor and he looks extremely live in this race.
The last horse of mention and the one I may end up keying in my vertical wagers is King and His Court (5-1) for trainer Mark Casse. By Court Vision, the three-year-old gelding sold for a bargain price of $2,500 (yes read that again) yet has earned nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Toss his last race at Tampa where he obviously hated the dirt track and you have a horse that loves synthetic surfaces, winning three of seven on this surface and finishing in the money in six of those starts. He is the only horse in the race to already win at today’s race distance which adds to the appeal. The price will be right and in a race where you have to guess which horses are going to like the synthetic surface, I’ll go with the one who is already proven on it.
A great betting race and plenty of value to be had in the pinnacle race of the Turfway Park meet.