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Kentucky Derby Contenders
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Jockey John Velazquez and We Miss Artie return after winning the 2014 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes
The highlight race of the Turfway Park winter-spring meeting is the $550,000 Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Spiral Stakes (G3), contested at 1 1/8 miles on the Polytrack. Conditions were excellent for this key Triple Crown prep worth 50 "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points to the winner, run just 6 weeks before the Kentucky Derby, with partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 50's. A full field of 12 three-year-olds went to post on Saturday afternoon, with Tamarando sent off as the 2-1 favorite off his win in the El Camimo Real Derby (G3). In to challenge him included 7-2 second choice We Miss Artie, winless since the Breeders' Futurity (G2) in October and eighth in the Fountain of Youth last out, and 6-1 third choice Solitary Ranger, winner of the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway, the major local prep for the Spiral.
We Miss Artie rallies on the outside in the stretch
Solitary Ranger and 13-1 Almost Famous battled for the early lead through opening fractions of 22.78 and 47.21
while stalked by 15-1 Harry's Holiday. On the far turn, Harry's Holiday inherited a short lead from the tiring
pacesetters through 3/4 in 1:12.43. 8-1 Coastline, fifth early, moved up to challenge Harry's Holiday through 1 mile
in 1:38.59, but We Miss Artie, seventh early, rallied 5 wide to get up by a nose in 1:52.26. It was just a head back
from Harry's Holiday to Coastline third.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 11 We Miss Artie Velazquez 9.20 5.80 4.20 10 Harry's Holiday Napravnik 13.40 8.60 5 Coastline Elliott 7.40 Winning Time: 1:52.26 $2 Exacta 11-10 130.20 $2 Trifecta 11-10-5 1,243.60 $2 Superfecta 11-10-5-2 11,905.00
Left: We Miss Artie in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "It really was (a great closing run). Very exciting. I wasn't sure he got there but very excited to see that he did. It looked like speed was holding up all day. Johnny had him in a good place and it looked like he was finishing steadily, but it was just a matter of whether he would get there. We were hoping he could get us (to the Derby) and he did."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Spiral Stakes. Jeff Ramsey, son of owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey said, “We really liked him today. He won a Grade 1 on the
Polytrack before and he was training really well. I didn’t really think we had it (the photo). Hopefully we’ll get a really
good trip in the (Kentucky) Derby. He’s been training on the dirt and getting better. He didn’t like the Fountain of
Youth (at Gulfstream). That track’s a little different than Churchill.”
Left: We Miss Artie in the paddock before the race.
Right: We Miss Artie in the post parade. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I was a little wide going into the first turn but I found a nice spot down the
backside. Right at the sixteenth-pole I had to drift away from them so he didn't have to work so hard. Then I was
able to get up at the wire."
Left: Second place finisher Harry's Holiday in the post parade. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said, "I kind of thought Johnny (Velazquez) had me on the outside. I was afraid he nipped us right at the end. But my horse did a great job. He was totally passed by (Coastline) and came back and stuck his nose out in front and ran a great race. It's a speed favoring track and the outside is better and that's where you got to be."
Right: Third place finisher Coastline in the paddock. Trainer Mark Casse said, "He came up six inches short of winning the race but I was very happy. He definitely ran a
big effort and we know he likes Churchill and he also likes Keeneland. It looked like we were going to get by."
Jockey Stewart Elliott added, "We had a great trip. When we turned for home I thought we were going to win it."
Left: Beaten favorite and 8th place finisher Tamarando in the post parade. Jockey Russell Baze said, "He didn't get a lot of speed. When I asked him to go, he went for a bit at the 1/8 pole and then quit."
Right: Fifth placer finisher Big Bazinga flipped in the paddock and ran off but was quickly captured.
The distaff counterpart to the Spiral is the $125,000 Pure Romance Bourbonette Oaks (G3), part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. A field of 11 three-year-old fillies went to post in this 1 mile Polytrack contest, with Sloane Square sent off as the 2-1 favorite, undefeated in 2 career starts and making her stakes debut. In to challenge her included 7-2 second choice Aurelia’s Belle, third in the Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream last out, and 6-1 third choice Swiss Lake Yodeler, off a third place finish in the Santa Ysabel (G3).
12-1 Stormy Novel battled for the lead with Sloane Square through fractions of 23.91, 46.99, and 1:12.57 while
stalked by 11-1 Zensational Bunny. Entering the lane, Stormy Novel tired while Aurelia’s Belle came through
between horses to gain the lead through 7/8 in 1:25.66. Kept to task by jockey Channing Hill, Aurelia’s Belle drew
off late to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Sloane Square in 1:38.99. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to 18-1 Katie’s Eyes
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Aurelia's Belle Hill 9.40 4.40 3.20 4 Sloane Square Velazquez 3.80 3.40 12 Katie's Eyes Lanerie 8.40 Winning Time: 1:38.99 $2 Exacta 7-4 37.80 $2 Trifecta 7-4-12 802.40 $2 Superfecta 7-4-12-2 9,851.00
Left: Aurelia's Belle in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Channing Hill said, "She was really comfortable the entire race. The speed went ahead but she sat behind them. She showed her class today. She tipped out and she didn't even fully extend herself. She was geared down once she left her company."
Right: Aurelia's Belle in the paddock before the race. Winning trainer Wayne Catalano said, "She likes the Polytrack; she won on it her first time (out). She worked great
on it the other day at Keeneland. She got a beautiful trip. The race set up just like we thought. It was a great ride
from Channing to get her out when she needed to. We liked the timing of this going into the (Kentucky) Oaks. That
race looks like the next step. That's (owner Jim Miller's) dream, to win the Oaks. That's why we're here. At least we
know we'll get in there."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Sloane Square in the paddock. Jockey John Velazquez said, "It just didn't happen. I had a horse to the inside of me and another to the outside. She didn't like getting taken into a hole, but she still ran a good race. (Aurelia's Belle) is a nice horse. She had been running in good races at Gulfstream, so a nice horse beat me today. I think the most difference was we didn't get to relax in the first part and we were fighting the whole way around."
Right: Third place finisher Katie's Eyes in the post parade. Jockey Corey Lanerie said, "It was good. Our post position was wide but she broke really sharp and I was in a good
position. I don't know where (Zensational Bunny) came from, going around the first turn, that got my filly rank
again. She settled coming around the turn here. I was a little wide, just kind of riding the racetrack, but she ran
Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday was the $50,000 Hansen Starter Handicap for older horses sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs. 2-1 second choice Gunderson contested the pace with 9-10 favorite Ghost is Clear and 12-1 Keg Party through fractions of 22.98 and 45.83. Entering the lane, Ghost is Clear came out 4 wide and surged to the front, drawing away to win by 2 1/2 lengths over Keg Party in 1:16.88. It was a long 3 lengths back to 15-1 Sniper third.
Winning trainer Mike Maker said, "He likes this track, he won the Hansel here as a 3 year old. He's very consistent and a nice addition to our barn." Jockey John Velazquez added, "He broke well and we got him into a good comfortable position. I decided to wait, and when I asked him down the lane, he was there."
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