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Aruna (above) won the 2011 Spinster Stakes (G1) and is a leading contender again in 2012. (Photo Courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire)

There was once a time when a popular phrase aboard an airplane was “coffee, tea or milk?”

In horse racing, there’s dirt, turf or synthetic surfaces. And much like the way you can put milk in your coffee or tea, some horses’ form can mix together rather nicely on a couple of the surfaces.

If you haven’t departed for the nearby Starbucks after reading that, let’s shift the conversation to its proper focus: Sunday’s $500,000 Spinster Stakes (G1) on the synthetic Polytrack surface at Keeneland Race Course.

If there’s a bond between two of the three surfaces, it’s clearly turf and synthetics as a successful turf horse is more likely to run well on a synthetic surface than an accomplished dirt runner.

Blending synthetic and turf races together to construct a meaningful form pattern, it provides more insight into the chances of each starter in the Spinster and ultimately points to one particular standout.

If you watched last year’s Spinster, this year’s edition might be fairly familiar as 2011 winner Aruna is once again the horse to beat.

Aruna took last year’s Spinster by a half-length in her Polytrack debut and her recent turf races indicate she’s in strong enough from to stage an encore.

Ignore Aruna’s last race, as she endured a horrible trip in the grassy Beverly D. Stakes (G1) at Arlington Park, stumbling at the start and then clipping heels en route to a 10th-place finish. Prior to that, she was second in the New York Stakes (G2) and victorious in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2), a pair of graded stakes at Belmont Park.

With a couple of solid workouts to her credit since the Arlington fiasco, Aruna seems the most reliable option in a race loaded with question marks.

For second, Upperline is worth a long look. She has won 5 of 10 starts on synthetic surfaces, including one win out of two starts at Keeneland. The 5-year-old daughter of Maria’s Mon turned in good efforts on turf in the Grade 1 Beverly D and Modesty Handicap (G3) in her last two starts, and if she moves forward when returning to Polytrack in the Spinster, she could figure in the exotics at an attractive price.

After that, some of the ones to consider are Summer Soiree, a 10 ¾-length winner in her lone try on synthetics, In Lingerie, who won her two starts on synthetics by a combined margin of 12 ¼ lengths, and Tiz Miz Sue, who has been running well on dirt lately but won early in her career over Arlington Park’s synthetic surface.

Several other starters in a highly competitive field could also be considered, yet the best blend of reliability and value should come from Aruna and Upperline.

So, enjoy the Spinster, and maybe even treat yourself to a cup of coffee while you’re watching it – light, of course, with milk and maybe some sugar.

Bob Ehalt’s picks:

1. Aruna

2. Upperline

3. In Lingerie

4. Tiz Miz Sue

$500,000 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes (G1)

Sunday, Keeneland Race Course, Race 8, 4:49 p.m. EDT

1 1/8 miles (All Weather Track), fillies & mares 3 years old and older

PP

Horse

Jockey

Weight

Trainer

1

Disposablepleasure (KY)

R. Napravnik

121

T A Pletcher

2

Juanita (KY)

S. Bridgmohan

124

M J Maker

3

Aruna (KY)

R.A. Dominguez

124

H G Motion

4

Summer Soiree (KY)

G. Saez

124

H G Motion

5

In Lingerie (KY)

J.R. Velazquez

121

T A Pletcher

6

Tiz Miz Sue (KY)

J. Rocco Jr.

123

S Hobby

7

Upperline (KY)

J. Graham

124

M Stidham

8

Nefertini (KY)

E. Trujillo

124

A E Goldberg

9

Smart Sting (KY)

P. Lopez

124

R L Attfield

10

Starformer (KY)

J.R. Leparoux

124

W I Mott

11

Mystical Star (KY)

J. Lezcano

124

C Clement

12

Karlovy Vary (KY)

C.J. Lanerie

121

G R Arnold II

13

Kitty in a Tizzy (KY)

F.C. Torres

124

H J Bond

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

Image Description

Bob Ehalt

Bob Ehalt has been an avid fan of Thoroughbred racing since that day in June of 1971 when he and his father walked from their Queens Village, N.Y., home to Belmont Park to see Canonero II fall short in his bid for the Triple Crown. A veteran sports writer and correspondent for Thoroughbred Times magazine, Bob has covered horse racing for more than 20 years and has won three awards in the Associated Press Sports Editors national writing contest for his coverage of the sport.

Now working at the New Haven Register in Connecticut, Bob has also owned Thoroughbreds since 1995 and was a member of the syndicate that raced Tale of the Cat. He also writes a racing blog for ESPNNewYork.com and is the co-founder of the New York Hot List handicapping service, which is offered at InterBets.com.

His NTRA.com blog received first-place honors in the 2008-09 Breeders' Cup Media Awards, winning in the initial year of competition in the Social Media category.  You can follow him on Twitter at @BobEhalt

 

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