Mar 19, 2014 6:50 PM by Brisnet News
Full fields of 12 sophomores have been entered for both the Grade 3, $550,000 Spiral and its sister race, the Grade 3, $125,000 Bourbonette Oaks, on Saturday at Turfway Park.
Each race will be worth points on a 50-20-10-5 basis, with the Spiral scheduled on the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and the Bourbonette Oaks part of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.
The Spiral is the main event and has drawn a competitive group of three-year-olds headlined by 3-1 morning-line favorite Tamarando. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer shipped the dark bay son of Bertrando from the West Coast in search of a second straight graded victory. The colt captured the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby over Golden Gate Fields' synthetic Tapeta on February 15 but is no stranger to the all-weather Polytrack, having scored in the Grade 1 Del Mar Derby over that surface last season.
Tamarando currently boasts 12 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, thanks to his El Camino Real Derby win and a third in last year's Grade 1 FrontRunner, and sits in 19th on the leaderboard. A win in the 1 1/8-mile Spiral, which will be his first start outside of the Golden State, would ensure the California-bred a place in the Derby starting gate on May 3.
Hall of Fame jockey Russell Baze has followed Tamarando from California for the mount.
While Tamarando is making his Turfway debut, the top three from the March 1 local prep, the John Battaglia Memorial, will all be lining back up on Saturday.
Solitary Ranger easily got the best of stablemate Poker Player in the 8 1/2-furlong Battaglia by 4 3/4 front-running lengths. It was another five lengths back to Harry's Holiday, who sprinted 6 1/2 furlongs for an eight-length score in the 96Rock Stakes one month prior.
Solitary Ranger actually broke his maiden last September in the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity prior to a subpar ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October. The well-traveled U S Ranger colt returned to competition at Fair Grounds for trainer Wayne Catalano on January 5, capturing a one-mile turf affair, and added the Battaglia to his resume last out under regular rider Florent Geroux, who stays in the saddle. The duo are listed at 6-1 on the morning-line.
Poker Player will be trying Polytrack for the third time on Saturday. The Catalano-trained son of Harlan's Holiday opened his career on turf and was scheduled to make his stakes bow in the grassy Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland last October. That race was moved to the main track, but Poker Player still pulled off the victory in the 1 1/16-mile contest. The gray colt shipped to the West Coast for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, where he finished eighth in his juvenile finale, and could improve in this spot in his second start of the year. Channing Hill retains the mount on Poker Player, who is 5-1 on the morning-line.
Harry's Holiday hasn't been given much chance in the Spiral, based on his 20-1 morning-line odds.
However, the Mike Maker pupil did earn a career-best 95 BRIS Speed rating in the 96Rock and gets a jockey change on Saturday to Rosie Napravnik. That may not be enough to get him in the winner's circle, but the Harlan's Holiday colt could have a shot at hitting the board again.
There are two runners in the Spiral who are exiting subpar efforts in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 22.
First up is We Miss Artie, who captured last season's Breeders' Futurity and stalked the early pace in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile prior to fading to seventh on the wire. The Artie Schiller colt held the lead in the stretch of the grassy Kitten's Joy Stakes while making his sophomore debut at Gulfstream but was just caught to be second by a head on the line. We Miss Arite never factored in the Fountain of Youth, finishing eighth, and will need to move forward if he hopes to compete here for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez.
Almost Famous lived up to his name by being the "it" horse in the Street Sense Stakes last fall at Churchill Downs. The Pat Byrne trainee could only manage fourth behind Coastline on that day, but returned two weeks later to romp by six lengths under the Twin Spires. Thus far in two tries as a sophomore, the Unbridled's Song colt has been fourth in the Grade 2 Holy Bull after contesting the early pace and never factored after a steadying start to be 11th in the Fountain of Youth. Kentucky Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel has been aboard Almost Famous for his two races this year and has the call on Saturday.
The Spiral field is completed by Grade 3 runner-up Big Bazinga, stakes winner Asserting Bear, last-out Grade 3 Southwest fourth-placer Coastline, Grade 3 second Smart Cover, All Tied Up and Arctic Slope.
The Bourbonette Oaks will take place one race before the Spiral and will see stakes veterans facing off against stakes debuters. The 3-1 morning-line favorite in the one-mile event belongs to the latter category as Sloane Square tries black-type competition for the first time in this spot.
The Pletcher-trained daughter of Giant's Causeway easily broke her maiden at first asking on January 19 before romping by 9 3/4 lengths last month in just her second start. Both times the gray filly was the post-time favorite but will likely face some competition for that honor in Saturday's Bourbonette Oaks. Velazquez takes the reins for the first time on Sloane Square.
Aurelia's Belle and Swiss Lake Yodeler could be the ones vying for favoritism following nice efforts against graded competition in their last races. The former filly, who is trained by Catalano, has placed in the Grade 2 Davona Dale, Grade 2 Forward Gal and Grade 3 Old Hat in her past three, and will tote the same 118-pound impost as Sloane Square.
Swiss Lake Yodeler will be giving those two rivals six pounds after being assigned 124, most of which will be taken up by Baze. The Hollendorfer miss captured a pair of state-bred stakes last year and enters the Bourbonette Oaks off a third in the Grade 3 Santa Ysabel.
Others of note in Saturday's Bourbonette Oaks include Zensational Bunny, who ran fourth in the Old Hat in her most recent effort to post her first loss from three starts; Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra third-placer Shanon Nicole; and Katie's Eyes, a 7 1/2-length scorer over the track on February 14.
Photo Credit: Benoit Photos
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