Competitive Field Lined Up for Spiral Stakes


We Miss Artie's biggest win came in last year's Dixiana Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire).

The 43rd running of the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes attracted a full field of 10 three-year-olds with hopes of earning an all-important 50 points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby system that should insure a place in the starting gate in six weeks. Leading the field in terms of credentials is Tamarando, who ships from California to Kentucky after winning the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby over a similar all-weather surface. We Miss Artie won the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity last fall over a similar surface at Keeneland and could return to top form after three races on other surfaces. Solitary Ranger won the local prep for the Spiral last month, the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, while Poker Player hopes to improve off his second place effort in that race and back to the form shown last fall when winning the Grade 3 Bourbon Stakes. Big Bazinga proved he belongs in top company when second and beaten just a half-length last October in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes in only the second start of his career. Another contender could be Asserting Bear, who won the Coronation Futurity in November at the distance of the Spiral and could improve off a fifth place finish in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, which was his first start of 2014.

Main Contenders:

Big Bazinga gets the ground saving rail for the Spiral and has the ability to rally from far behind or to lead from the start, having shown the latter style in only the second race of his career last October when second and beaten just a half-length in the Grey Stakes. 2009 Kentucky Derby upset winner Mine That Bird won the 2008 Grey, which makes it significant as a potential prep race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Grey is also important because it was run on the all-weather Polytrack surface similar to the surface at Turfway Park. In his most recent race, Big Bazinga earned a career best, and perhaps more importantly field high, 102 Equibase Speed Figure, so with expected improvement in his third start of the year Big Bazinga could post the upset win in this year's Spiral Stakes.

All Tied Up makes his stakes debut but appears to be ready for this level after finishing just three-quarters of a length behind Big Bazinga in that highly rated allowance race last month, earning a career best 101 figure. One of two horses in the race trained by the leading trainer in earnings in North America, Todd Pletcher, All Tied Up could be rallying from far back in the Spiral and like Big Bazinga, has potential to run well at high odds.

We Miss Artie is the other Pletcher trainee, proven at the level and surface with a win last fall in the Breeders' Futurity. Two races later, We Miss Artie led late and missed by a head in the Kitten's Joy Stakes to earn a career best 99. Trying conventional dirt in the Fountain of Youth stakes last month, We Miss Artie disappointed when eighth, but back on the surface of his biggest win he could rebound to top form and be a strong factor in the Spiral.

Other Horses of Note:

Solitary Ranger led from start to finish in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes over this track three weeks ago to earn a career best 95 and is likely to be in front from the moment the gate opens in the Spiral but this is a tougher group and he may have his work cut out for him. Battaglia runner-up Poker Player has rallied from nearly last in each of his five career starts and won the Bourbon Stakes (with a career best 94 figure) last fall so could certainly be part of the exacta or trifecta at the end.


Photo by John Engelhardt for Pat Lang Photography

Similarly, Tamarando's average position in the early stages of his races has been ninth but he closes fast in the stretch and has only been worse than third once in 10 races, most recently taking the El Camino Real Derby last month. Still, his best effort yielded a 96 figure, which appears to fall short of what it may take to win the Spiral. Asserting Bear won the Coronation Futurity last fall in Canada at the distance of the Spiral with a career best 96 figure. Although his only start this year resulted in a fifth place finish he is another that, with not unheard of significant improvement, could have a say in the outcome of the Spiral.

The rest of the field, with their best representative Equibase Speed figures, is Almost Famous (93), Arctic Slope (74), Coastline (93), Harry's Holiday (80) and Smart Cover (81).

My Selections:

Big Bazinga

All Tied Up

We Miss Artie

Get complete Spiral Day Stakes Selections at

$550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes

Saturday, Race 11, Turfway, 6:28 PM E.T.

One Mile and One Eighth, 3-year-olds







Big Bazinga

Luis Contreras

Katerina Vassilieva



Asserting Bear

Joe Rocco Jr.

Reade Baker



Poker Player

Channing Hill

Wayne Catalano




Russell Baze

Jerry Hollendorfer




Stewart Elliott

Mark Casse



Smart Cover

Corey Lanerie

Dale Romans



All Tied Up

Luis Saez

Todd Pletcher



Solitary Ranger

Florent Geroux

Wayne Catalano



Almost Famous

Calvin Borel

Pat Byrne



Harry's Holiday

Rosie Napravnik

Mike Maker



We Miss Artie

John Velazquez

Todd Pletcher



Arctic Slope

Albin Jimenez

Kenny McPeek


All assigned 123 pounds.

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